There is a time when Vanilla Ice, also known by his actual name, Rob Van Winkle, seemed an unlikely candidate for Most Famous Palm Beach Countian. The rapper was mostly associated with Miami and ’90s-era flashy go-go party-ness -“I lived next door to Don Johnson and Gloria Estefan. At 12 in the morning, all you’d hear is ‘boom boom boom,’ ” he told us in 2010.
But now, Van Winkle, who starts his sixth season of the Vanilla Ice Project on DIY Network Saturday at 10 p.m., is a tried and true resident of the 561, a regular Wellington guy frequently sighted getting bagels and living his life with his family. (OK, he did take that community service plea last year after removing what he thought were discarded items from a foreclosed home. But he said it was all a misunderstanding.)
As he showcases a new Palm Beach County house in need of a makeover, we revisit five things he’s done to make himself a good neighbor.
1) Base “The Vanilla Ice Project” so close to home: From a trashed Wellington mansion restored to its former glory to a Manalapan waterfront house, Van Winkle has chosen projects in the area - “I love Palm Beach County. This is my area,” he said in 2010.
2) Support young filmmakers: Every year, Van Winkle is a presenter at the Palm Beach International Film Festival’s Student Showcase of Films, not only giving out awards to aspiring young Spielbergs, but spending a lot of time hanging out with them on the red carpet, taking selfies and being encouraging.
3) Stopping, collaborating and listening for charity: For ten straight years, he’s hosted a holiday block party in various places around the county to raise money and collect toys for needy kids. Last year he gave a show at Downtown at the Gardens for Little Smiles, which helps kids in hospitals, hospices and other places.
4) Buying lemonade from a little local dancer: In a classic good neighbor move, Van Winkle showed up at the Lantana lemonade stand of young Sophia Balfour, who was raising money so she could attend a prestigious summer dance program in Chicago.
5) Using his “Ice Ice Baby” powers to announce a blessed event: In 2014, Van Winkle agreed to appear on the birth announcements of Boca Raton couple Emily and Jason Teck. They were hilariously simple - Ice pointing to himself, Jason holding a cup of ice, and Emily pointing to her baby bump. The Tecks reported that he was friendly and happy to do it.
Like a good neighbor, Vanilla Ice is there.