- Kristina Webb Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Now in its eighth year, there will be more to see and do at this year’s event — and of course the return of headliner and Wellington resident Rob Van Winkle, better known as pop culture icon Vanilla Ice.
“We believe this will be our best event to date,” said Michela Green, executive director of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, which partners with Wellington each year to put on the family-friendly holiday event. Admission to Winterfest is free with a suggested donation of a new, unwrapped toy for Little Smiles.
Green said more than 5,000 people are expected for the festival from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Wellington Amphitheater complex.
A new addition this year is the chamber’s partnership with the KVJ Show’s Vanilla Ice Block Party, necessitated by the rapper’s tight touring schedule. For Green, the popular morning show’s participation is a major bonus, driving more interest in the event — and in the Wellington businesses that make it happen.
“I think the partnership is one that we hope lasts for many years,” she said. “It really brings people from outside Wellington to Wellington to see what we’re all about.”
The night kicks off when officials turn off the lights and watch the Christmas tree glow, as hundreds of bulbs are illuminated in the annual tree-lighting. Local entertainers will keep the party jumping until Vanilla Ice hits the stage to close out the event.
Closer to the Wellington Community Center, attendees will find two activities areas. Blizzard Beach features a 155-foot obstacle course, “giant-sized board games brought to life” like Twister and foosball, and a zip line, Green said. And the Kids Winter Wonderland features snow and skating.
New for adults this year is the Mix Masters Lounge sponsored by Pyra360.com, PhysEdGear.com and The Wellness Experience. “It is a great addition if you’re an adult, and you aren’t planning on visiting Blizzard Beach and want a nice place to sit and watch the show,” Green said.
Winterfest continues to be a big draw for local businesses, with dozens of vendors offering food and crafts. Western communities-based companies also play a major role in sponsoring Winterfest, from Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital sponsoring interactive photo booths, to Palms West Hospital sponsoring Blizzard Beach and the Winter Wonderland, to drone sponsor Floridian Community Bank, to title sponsor Chukker.tv, a streaming polo service.
Green, now in her 13th year with the chamber, said when Winterfest was launched eight years ago her team had some idea it would be big thanks in large part to Vanilla Ice’s participation.
“But it truly has now become a community-based holiday festival,” she said.