Vanilla Ice returns for massive Winterfest in Wellington with KVJ Show

Oct 23, 2017
Celebrity emcee Vanilla Ice (center) and then-Wellington Mayor Darrell Bowen (left) read the classic Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” during Wellington Winterfest in 2011 at the Wellington Amphitheater. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Two huge Palm Beach County events are merging this year and Wellington officials are preparing for a massive December crowd at the amphitheater.

The KVJ Show’s annual Vanilla Ice Block Party has joined Winterfest, a partnership between the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and the village, to put on the mega event from 6-10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 8 at the Wellington Amphitheater complex.

“Due to Vanilla Ice’s heavy tour date schedule, the date needed to occur in December for both events,” said Michela Green, Wellington chamber executive director. “The chamber was happy to invite the KVJ Show to be part of our event.”

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Organizers anticipate crowds of close to 8,000 for the event that would sprawl across the several acres of parking lots and lawns that surround the ampitheater. A large grassy area between the Wellington Community Center and Village Hall will be home to Blizzard Beach, where families can ice skate, zipline, run an obstacle course and play in snow.

“We have more than enough room to accommodate everyone,” Green said.

Winterfest, which began in 2010, has hosted more than 8,000 attendees in the past, when it was at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in 2015. If 8,000 people turn out this year, Wellington cultural programs and facilities manager Joe Piconcelli said it would be the largest event ever at the amphitheater.

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Is that enough for the crowds and traffic?

“It should be able to handle it,” Piconcelli said, adding that more than 4,000 is most people the amphitheater area has hosted.

Parking will be off-site with a free shuttle. For those unfamiliar with Wellington, cards will be handed out to attendees with information on where to park and ride or park and walk, Green said. The chamber has used the cards in past, and they “worked great,” she added.

Rob Van Winkle — the rapper known as Vanilla Ice — has participated in Winterfest for several years, raising money for local charities and taking time to sign autographs and engage with the community, Green said. Ice has held his annual event throughout Palm Beach County, including downtown West Palm Beach establishments and at Downtown at the Gardens.

“The fact that he does this event for Wellington is definitely one of the most driving forces behind the popularity of it,” she noted.

The chamber also has lined up more than 15 performers, ranging from dance groups to musicians and more. “We’ve been able to find a nice mix of genres as well as styles,” Green said. “They’re just amazing.”

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Food trucks and vendors will offer a mix of fare, from Greek food to tacos and the usual festival line-up. There also will be shopping, with booths set up offering a range of boutique, handmade and artisan goods.

“It’s become a much-anticipated community event,” Green said. “It’s for everyone. … It’s family-friendly and there’s lots to do for kids.”

Wellington will have its tree-lighting at the event. Attendees are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to donate to Little Smiles, which will deliver the items to children in local hospitals.

Admission to Winterfest is free, but Green said the event for the first time will sell separate admission to the activities to off-set the cost of hiring the vendors. While a final price hasn’t been set, she said it will be between $10 and $15.

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