GPL Tournament Gallops Back

GPL Tournament Gallops Back Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament, Presented By Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Makes Its Return To Wellington This Month

While the excitement of the equestrian season in Wellington is always a joyful time in the community, the annual Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament, presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, (GPL) really ramps up the fun! This year will be no exception when the event returns to the International Polo Club Palm Beach from April 7 through April 10.

The multi-day event brings together an international slate of LGBTQ athletes and allies, along with some of the top luxury brands from around the world for festivities that celebrate inclusion and awareness.

Founder Chip McKenney, a passionate equestrian, desired to create a safe place and unique opportunity for LGBTQ+ athletes interested in the sport of polo. Unsure of how it would be received in the polo community, he took a leap of faith and created the Gay Polo League in 2006. In 2010, he established the International Gay Polo Tournament.

“It was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time,” McKenney said. “It truly was unlike anything I had ever done, yet I knew I could not be the only gay person wanting a place to enjoy sports without feeling like I did not belong. Too often in the LGBTQ+ community, including myself, there is a fear of team sports and, therefore, we do not pursue them.”

McKenney’s vision for the league and the tournament has proven successful. Today, GPL has members in 14 countries. This year, the 16 polo players competing represent six countries — Argentina, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, Peru and the United States.

McKenney believes it is the inclusiveness that makes this tournament not only stand out, but a success. “We are identified as a gay tournament, yet we are inclusive of others who wish to participate and support our events,” he said. “For us, diversity and inclusion are exciting and important. The tournament is for all to participate. We are one human race, and that should matter more than anything.”

He believes that part of the wide acceptance of the GPL is the well-traveled audience and participants who care more about a desire to play than anything else. It is what participants are most looking forward to.

Beginning with the GPL Stick & Ball practice and VIP Sponsor Reception sponsored by RBC Wealth Management, by invitation only, on Thursday, April 7, and the GPL Senator Cup Preliminary Matches, the fun will really begin during the Baccarat presents the GPL Polotini Wigstock!, a charity fundraiser on the evening of Friday, April 8.

New this year, the charity beneficiary of Polotini is the onePULSE Foundation, which was born out of the tragic events at the Pulse nightclub in June 2016. The foundation’s mission is to create and support a national memorial that opens hearts, a museum that opens minds, educational programs that open eyes and scholarships that open doors.

“The events that happened that night should live forever in the minds and hearts of our country,” McKenney said. “In the conversations our team has had with onePULSE founder Barbara Poma, we relive the horror and pain of that fateful night. And, while our world is certainly moving forward, we must never forget and continue to push for equality and acceptance. We know the work that the foundation is doing directly aligns with the work we are doing. We have the highest of hopes that empathy and bravery will grow, while inspiring others to be accepting, inclusive and celebrate the strengths that diversity brings to every aspect of our life.”

Saturday, April 9 will be the main event during the GPL Senator Cup Finals, GPL Founder’s Cup Finals and GPL Tailgate Competition, sponsored by First Republic Bank. The polo field will be filled with sights of majestic ponies complemented by fierce competition and laughter from the participants on and off the fields. The fans will enjoy the culminating match, featuring elite athletes from around the globe.

“Who doesn’t love the sideline action in these wild tailgates?” McKenney said. “I cannot wait to see what everyone who has been stuck at home over the last two years dreams up for the big re-entry into the world!”

Festivities will end at Sunday, April 10’s GPL Brunch when McKenney will officially announce his biggest news yet, that the GPL received the Palm Beach County Champion of Equity & Diversity in Sports Award at the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame Awards Celebration.

The celebration will be held the week prior to the GPL event. The GPL was selected for inspiring and empowering individuals while promoting the sport of polo to provide equality, pride, inclusion and confidence for those who may face discrimination simply by identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

“This award is a formal recognition of the work we are doing. We strive and support understanding and acceptance of all,” McKenney said. “We are proud to receive this award and continue moving forward with our event’s focus remaining on the desire to increase visible LGBTQ athletes in the sporting world.”

Tickets are available now for the 2022 International Gay Polo Tournament and can be purchased, along with sponsorship packages and additional information, by visiting www.gaypolo.com.

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Behind The Tournament

Behind The Tournament Many Sponsors Help Propel The Gay Polo League Event To The Next Level

While the organizers and participants are a key part of the International Gay Polo Tournament, it is the sponsors that help to elevate the event to what it is. When the battle cry “the slightest difference makes all the difference” was called, these allies stood up. They invested dollars to support the work that is creating an atmosphere of understanding. They join the organizers, players and fans in looking forward to the largest Gay Polo League tournament to date, with more than 3,000 players, attendees and enthusiasts expected from around the world.

This year’s sponsors include:

Lexus — One of the top ten luxury car brands in the world, Lexus epitomizes class, luxury and imaginative technology. Lexus vehicles have uncompromising style, unmatched potential, and marry intensity with elegance. A priority for Lexus is community equality, which is why the company enthusiastically returns each year to sponsor the tournament.

Douglas Elliman Real Estate — Known for its vast reach, a portfolio unmatched by any other company and one that aligns with the vision of the Gay Polo League, the cause-based brand of Douglas Elliman Real Estate has been a longtime sponsor of the event. The company proudly supports diversity and equality in a meaningful way with an impact that is recognized around the world.

Baccarat — Known for its luxury goods, Baccarat has undergone an exciting rejuvenation over the last few years and bridged the gap between “look don’t touch” philosophies and creating new ways to use the coveted crystal. The company will serve as the GPL Polotini sponsor during the 2022 tournament, which will benefit the onePULSE Foundation. The foundation’s defining mission and healing initiative aligns perfectly with the GPL, including the mutual wish of preventing targeted tragedies and hate from occurring again.

Cherry Knoll Farm — Recognized for excellence in the sport of international show jumping and dressage, CKF is a strong and valued ally to many causes. For years, CKF has sponsored the GPL VIP Pavilion, which creates a world-class experience to spectators attending the International Gay Polo Tournament. CKF’s philanthropy is widely known for supporting childhood education, para dressage athletes and more.

Additional sponsors who propel the event forward include First Republic Bank, Bethesda Hospital, the U.S. Polo Association, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, Passport, Discover the Palm Beaches, McKenney Media, the Tackeria, Woodford Reserve, Marshall & Sterling, Emerald Elite, G Racing, RBC Wealth Management and Palm City Polo.

These 18 new and returning sponsors have stepped up in supporting the Gay Polo League’s goal of creating a safe, connected community for LGBTQ athletes and fans.

“Our sponsors proudly share our vision to support and advance equality and diversity for LGBTQ+ athletes and allies. It is because of these sponsors, brands and supportive companies that we continue to create a community of individuals coming together for a fun, light-hearted yet impactful event that is changing the world as we know it,” said Chip McKenney, GPL’s founder and president.

Tickets are available now for the 2022 tournament and may be purchased by visiting www.gaypolo.com.

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Champions In Every Sense Of The Word


Champions In Every Sense Of The Word Gay Polo League Wins Prestigious Award From The Palm Beach County Sports Commission

A champion can be defined as a person who fights or argues for a cause or on behalf of someone else. While many understand the definition of a champion in relation to “the big game,” this form of champion is someone who truly fights for what they believe in every way, every day. Fighting the fight for equality for more than a decade is the team behind the Gay Polo League. Recently, the community has taken notice.

On April 3, the Gay Polo League will receive the prestigious Palm Beach County Sports Commission “Champion of Equity & Diversity Award” for its work on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes through the game of polo.

Since its inception, the league has worked tirelessly to create an atmosphere that affirms and supports the understanding and acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, sexual preference, sexual identity or gender. The Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament, presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, is the only LGBTQ+ sporting event in Palm Beach County and remains so even after more than a decade.

While the Gay Polo League proudly has teams that participate in other leagues and tournaments, there is still much growth on the horizon. The league will continue its work to promote goodwill and camaraderie that extends throughout the game of polo and transcends into other sports and aspects of life.

“We have come such a long way,” Gay Polo League founder Chip McKenney said. “This award speaks volumes to the work we are doing for our friends, neighbors and allies. This means that our sleepless nights and bravery are truly making a difference. We are creating safe spaces, ruffling feathers in the best way possible and inciting positive change!”

The award will officially be bestowed during the 45th annual Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame Awards Celebration at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. The Gay Polo League will be the second polo entity recognized by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission and will proudly continue its work as change agents advocating understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ people.

McKenney believes that “differences are teachers” and values embracing, celebrating and elevating the benefits of diversity. He encourages the community to continue serving as allies for LGBTQ+ communities and working together to advance equity. While the league’s work is “changing the sport of polo one chukker at a time,” there is still much work to be done.

Learn more about the Gay Polo League at www.gaypolo.com.

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Rönner Is A Lifestyle Brand Inspired By Everything Equestrian

Rönner creates classic equestrian-style collections with a unique, feminine twist. One of the brand’s main focuses are timeless and whimsical prints, all created for passionate people who love horses.

Rönner is a family-owned business, founded by Ines Rönner and her two daughters, Jessica and Carin. It all started with Ines, who instilled a love for horses in Jessica and Carin. They grew up around horses, and this was the background for their initial inspiration.

“The idea was to create something fresh and innovative to everything we saw in the equestrian apparel market,” Ines said.

Horses and everything equestrian are the main inspirations behind the collections. From Sunday polo events, to classic dressage, to the noble-yet-powerful nature of a horse: these are all the canvases to the Rönner collections.

All the prints are hand-drawn, created by artists, blending feminine elements like florals and blooms with classic equestrian motifs.

The brand has three main lines: ride-leisure, lifestyle, and home and gifts.

Ride-leisure focuses on pieces for optimal performance, such as training tops, polo shirts and show shirts created for riding and sport activities, but also for casual outfits, barn to lunches, and leisurely weekends.

The lifestyle line showcases blouses, dresses, shoes and more for a unique and elegant equestrian style.

The home and gift line features a selection of thoughtful options that make perfect presents for the whole riding family and friends, such as tablecloths, stationery, pouches and more.

Rönner is a female-founded company, by women-for women, and it is very important for the company to have an ethical manufacturing process and a meaningful purpose. The craftmanship is socially and environmentally responsible. All the pieces are made with love, care and sensibility by women head of their homes in Colombia. Most of the textiles and materials used by Rönner are upcycled, and the packaging is eco-friendly.

“This is because we care about who makes our designs just as much as who we make them for,” Ines said.

The brand just launched a special collection in collaboration with noted equestrian Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. In unison, they created two main prints, one inspired by Meredith’s horse Shutterfly, and the other a classic equestrian icon with tack and florals. The pieces of the collection are classic and elegant silhouettes with unique prints.

“It was very inspiring to design a collection with such an inspiring and talented woman as Meredith,” Ines said. “Her career as a female rider was the perfect match to our philosophy and believes as a brand.”

Rönner hopes to continue growing the business and working to reach passionate people who love what they do and feel identified with a brand that matches their passion.

“With our pieces and prints, we want to make people feel unique and special, and connected with one common ground: the love for horses,” Ines said.

Discover the Rönner collections at www.ronnerdesign.com.

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Young Equestrian Riders

Young Equestrian Riders
Up-And-Coming Stars Winter In Wellington, Honing Their Skills For Their Future Careers

Each year during the winter season, we look to highlight some of the amazing young equestrian riders who bring their future star power to Wellington. Across the next few pages, you are invited to meet some of these talented riders.

With a record number of young equestrians becoming prominent throughout the industry, we are just touching a small handful of this elite group. After rebounding from the challenges over the last two years, many of the up-and-coming rising stars came to Wellington this winter to win at every level of competition and in a wide range of disciplines, from jumping to dressage and polo.

Although young, these riders put in an amazing amount of the time and effort to show with the confidence needed to succeed. It has been great to watch some of these riders grow up right here in Wellington, as well as those who travel from around the globe to compete at the amazing venues that Wellington has to offer.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the four riders profiled here, and many others, as they continue to advance in their arena and hopefully onto the world stage one day.

Avery Glynn
Story and Photo by Tori Bilas/Phelps Media Group

Junior Hunters, WIHS medals and the USET/Platinum Performance Talent Search 3* are just a few of the many prestigious classes that Avery Glynn of Petaluma, California, has topped as she aimed for more wins at this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival. At just 17 years old, the young rider is making a name for herself on both coasts, sweeping junior hunter and equitation classes in every ring she steps foot in, and in the best of company.

Daughter of professional equestrian trainer Hope Glynn, Avery has been surrounded by horses since a young age and is now learning the ropes of the sport from professionals all over the country, including the Ingram family, based in Wellington for the winter, and Missy Clark and John Brennan of North Run, all of whom hired Avery as a working student during her time in Wellington.

This young equestrian rider is building a foundation for a profession in the equestrian world, already teaming up with major brands she believes in, including the BEMER Horse-Set, marking the first equitation and junior rider that the prominent brand works with.

Sarah Tight
Story by Sydney Jones  |  Photo by Georgie Hammond

With young riders pioneering the future of equestrian sports, it is paramount that these athletes are in an environment that supports their development as riders, as well as people to propel them into the next phase of their career. This is true for Sarah Tight, a 13-year-old athlete who trains with Carriage Hill Farms. Sarah has had her sights set on competing at a high level from the early age of four years old.

Currently competing in the 3’-3’3 equitation, Sarah has goals to continue her growth and get to the top of the equitation divisions. Although still a young rider herself, Sarah hopes to encourage and inspire both current and future young riders in the sport. “A piece of advice I would like to share with other young athletes is to take the time to build a relationship with your horse and always have fun no matter what the outcome of your round is,” she said.

McKayla Langmeier
Story by Allyson Lagiovane | Photo by Sportfot

Born and raised in East Granby, Connecticut, into a family of equestrians, McKayla Langmeier has been fully immersed in the equestrian scene her entire life. McKayla has followed in the footsteps of her parents, Linda and Kenny Langmeier, to garner many achievements by the young age of 21.

McKayla attended Auburn University, where she competed on the Auburn Equestrian NCEA team from 2018-21. Approaching the end of her junior year, she made the decision to take her riding career to the next level and turn professional. Some of her top wins include the 2015 ASPCA Maclay National Championship, marking the first time a mother and daughter have both held the coveted title.

McKayla has also held top titles at events such as HITS Saugerties, Spruce Meadows in Calgary, the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals-East, the Traverse City Horse Shows and many more. McKayla continues to ride as a professional, making a name for herself as she travels across the United States with her parents and the Kelianda Farm team.

Charlotte McLaughlin
Story by Olivia Airhart | Photo by Phelps Media Group

18-year-old Canadian show jumper Charlotte McLaughlin of Perth, Ontario, began her riding career in 2011 in the hunter ring, moving quickly through the ranks aboard It’s Coolman, finishing with her team as reserve champion in the Children’s Hunter Division at the Royal Winter Fair.

McLaughlin transitioned to the jumper ring in 2017, and just one year later she had the opportunity to represent her home nation at the 2018 FEI North America Youth Championships at Old Salem Farm, where she won team gold and individual silver. In her breakout year, she was also named the 2018 Canadian Champion at the Royal Winter Fair.

Since making a splash in the show jumping world, McLaughlin has continued to develop as an athlete under the tutelage of both Millar Brook Farm and Millar Brooke South here in Wellington. As a recipient of the Equestrian Canada Jumping Youth Bursary in 2020, McLaughlin was praised for her dedication to both the classroom as an honor roll student and as a serious competitor in the show ring. Most recently, the up-and-coming rider represented Canada yet again at the 2021 FEI North American Youth Championships in the 1.40-1.45m Junior Jumper division aboard Vantastico.

Just this past winter, McLaughlin achieved one of her lifelong goals of becoming a Tiger, making a verbal commitment to ride on Auburn University’s NCAA Division 1 equestrian team. She prides herself on being a well-rounded athlete devoting her time to both the show ring and the classroom, as well as volunteer work. McLaughlin is excited to ride for Auburn and will continue to train and show with the Millars.

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Life In The Doghouse

Life In The Doghouse
Children’s Book Series Hits Shelves, Based On Real Life Dogs From Danny & Ron’s Rescue

By Emma Miller

For lifelong animal lovers Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta, the work of dog rescue is never-ending.

The couple, who met through a mutual love for equestrian sport, shifted gears to begin focusing their efforts on the other four-legged friends that needed their help in 2005. Though the two were passionate about saving dogs long before, Danny and Ron’s Rescue truly saw its inception during Hurricane Katrina.

Their rescue mission began in earnest as they saved more than 600 dogs from the national disaster in Louisiana.

For their efforts during Hurricane Katrina, they were named the 2008 ASPCA Honorees of the Year.

Since then, Robertshaw and Danta have used their personal home for Danny & Ron’s Rescue, forming as a nonprofit organization that has saved more than 12,000 dogs, placing them in loving homes.

With roots both here in Wellington, and in Camden, South Carolina, Danny and Ron’s Rescue has been widely recognized and loved in both areas of the country for years. Following the release of an award-winning feature documentary, Life in the Doghouse on Netflix in 2018, they were given a new platform to spread the word about their mission to fans from all over the world.

With this new, eager audience in mind, Robertshaw and Danta released their new heartfelt chapter book series “Life in the Doghouse” published by Simon & Schuster in February 2022, inspired by the stories of real dogs from the rescue featured in the popular Netflix documentary. The newly released books, co-written by Crystal Velasquez and illustrated by Laura Catrinella, are now available at multiple locations, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

“We hope that our ‘Life in the Doghouse’ children’s series will help spark a love for animals in the younger generations, because they are the ones who will carry on our mission of dog rescue in the future,” Danta said. “Whether the books encourage someone to spread the word about adopting, help others in need or just put a smile on their face, they are doing what we hoped they would.”

The first book in the series, Elmer and the Talent Show, features an older dachshund that doesn’t quite fit in. Elmer forms a slow-to-start friendship with Benny, the boy in his new family, as they prepare for a big talent show. The second book, Moose and the Smelly Sneakers, follows the adventures of an ornery puppy and industrious Jeanie who manages to merge her science homework with Moose’s training. The third book in the series, Millie, Daisy and the Scary Storm, will be released on July 12. Millie and Daisy are best friends who’ve been through a lifetime of challenges together. Finally finding safety at Danny & Ron’s Rescue, Millie settles in easily and looks forward to finding her forever home, while Daisy still feels anxious about thunderstorms and leaving the rescue.

With the fun new children’s book series, Robertshaw and Danta hope to both inspire and entertain young dog lovers, educating them on the importance of dog rescue and giving all dogs a second chance at love.

The pair held a book signing on March 12 at their adoption booth at the Winter Equestrian Festival’s Palm Beach International Equestrian Center to meet and greet some of their fans in the Wellington area and promote some of their adoptable dogs at the venue.

Danny and Ron have been featured on “The Today Show,” the CBS Evening News, the Hallmark Channel, “Pickler & Ben” and several other TV shows. Their mission is a lifetime promise of love and care to every dog they take in.

Visit www.dannyronsrescue.org to learn more about the nonprofit. Learn more about the documentary at www.lifeinthedoghousemovie.com. It is now available to stream on Amazon.

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Great Food With Amazing Entertainment

Great Food With Amazing Entertainment Newly Renovated Boonies Wild West Saloon Serves Up Great Food With A Country Flair

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

Boonies Wild West Saloon is like an old friend waving to drivers along a road, not so less traveled anymore. But the longtime hangout along busy Southern Blvd. in Loxahatchee Groves is seeing a vibrant rebirth. It’s bringing in a multi-generational crowd that can enjoy a variety of live music, mouthwatering American cuisine with a southern twist and an all-around down-home vibe.

“Our staff is the heart and soul of this place and takes care of everyone who walks through that door,” General Manager Jim Wallace said. “We try to focus on treating everyone like they’re family from the minute they walk in.”

Since its re-opening under new ownership in September 2021, a new vision has come to life for Boonies.

“It’s a vision of having a western live venue. The area needed it. A local place they can go to dance, listen to live music and enjoy a great family friendly experience,” Wallace said.

Larger-than-life prints of country icons like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash welcome you in, while an array of flickering hues ranging from electric blue to green and pink along a stage backed by an American flag plays host to out-of-town bands as well as local acts.

“It’s almost electric when you walk in on a Friday or Saturday night, and you have the live bands playing, and you see people up and dancing and just having a great time,” Wallace said. “We recently had a Toby Keith Tribute band. That was really exciting.”

Just as exciting as the live entertainment is the wide-ranging menu. Part steakhouse, part southern pub, Boonies is a blend that has an array of options for anyone’s taste.

For meat lovers, there’s a number of options. From hand-cut filet mignon to Delmonico hand-cut boneless ribeye, or the Chairman’s Reserve New York Strip, which happens to be the chef’s favorite. “I cut all the steaks by hand, and we grill to order. People love them. My favorite is the New York strip, but this crowd loves the ribeye,” explained Arturo Lorenzo, the chef at Boonies Wild West Saloon.

The crowd also loves the Lollipop Lamb Chops. This delicacy is a huge seller. “They’re French style,” Lorenzo said. “We marinate them overnight with garlic, rosemary and mint, and grill them to the customer’s taste, then add a balsamic glaze.”

The redskin whipped potatoes with gravy along with steamed asparagus are two of the most popular pairings. Two sides come with each entrée, with a number of choices.

The Wild West Burger comes made to order topped with barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, sizzling applewood bacon and a trio of beer-battered onion rings on a brioche bun accompanied by light, crispy French fries.

Boonies’ Gator Bites are also a top favorite. Deep fried, locally sourced gator is made to order and served with the house special sauce. The Stacked Nachos are also a crowd-pleasing appetizer piled with homemade chili, queso, pico de gallo, jalapeños and cilantro crema.

For greens, salad options include Boonies’ House with mixed lettuce, cucumbers, cheddar jack cheese, tomatoes, red onions, croutons and a choice of dressing. Options of lightly blackened shrimp, salmon, mahi-mahi or chicken can be added.

“Our chef is phenomenal,” Wallace said. “He’s gifted and cares about every ingredient in everything that’s made. We have an incredible team in the kitchen. They have a dedication to putting out great food.”

A fully stocked bar and friendly bartending staff is ready to serve from open to close. Order your favorite or choose from signature cocktails, which can be served in a Boonies’ 20-ounce souvenir LED cowboy boot mug with colors beaming through drinks like in the Boot Scootin’, which is made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Malibu Rum, Creme De Banana, pineapple and orange juice, with a touch of grenadine. The Southern Mule has its own spin made with Jameson Orange Whiskey, Fever Tree Ginger Beer and lime juice.

The weekly event schedule is packed. Each day and night of the week there is action. Mondays are open for various community events with a big focus on charity.

“We’re very big into giving back. We try to sponsor as much as we can,” Wallace said. “Every month, we do a different charity event where we do a quarter auction option in addition to a portion of proceeds from sales.”

Tuesdays are always for karaoke, so warm up those vocals and grab the mic. Wednesdays are Bingo Night, popular and friendly for all ages with payouts. Thursday night is Ladies Night with line dancing lessons, an in-house DJ until midnight and discounted drinks.

Fridays and Saturdays are all about live entertainment with bands from near and far taking center stage. Finally, on Sundays, it’s poker at 1, 3 and 5 p.m.

There are a number of specials each week. Monday through Friday, happy hour runs from open until 6 p.m. with two-for-one well drinks, domestic drafts and house wine, as well as 25 percent off appetizers. Early bird specials run from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., when entrées are the same portion size at a discounted price.

“We didn’t want to change the portion, but allow for those who don’t want to be out late to still get to try our most popular items, without sacrificing size,” Wallace explained.

For the really early birds, breakfast is also now being served both Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7 to 11 a.m.

A kids menu ranging from burger bites to meatball marinara with several sides make for a well-rounded selection.

For sweet treats, desserts include Killer Key Lime Pie, as well as a Turtle Cheesecake topped with chocolate ganache, creamy caramel and pecans.

Aside from the food and drinks, it’s game time with a billiards area to the left of the bar, which offers additional seating, relaxed lighting and bar games. The pool tables extend outside under the large patio area, which will include an outdoor bar come late spring. Both smoking and non-smoking outdoor areas are available. Corn hole is also on hand to play.

With so many options, Boonies strives to be an all-in-one, early morning and late-night place for everyone.

“We’re really all about the community, not just giving back, but trying to make them feel this is a place they can call their own,” Wallace said. “From regulars to those trying for the first time, we want to exceed their expectations.”

Find Boonies on Facebook and Instagram for the daily schedule and specials. Take out is available, as is delivery from DoorDash. The restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends, and closes at 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 2 a.m. Thursday, and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Boonies Wild West Saloon is located in the Palms West Plaza at 14555 Southern Blvd. in Loxahatchee Groves. For more information, call (561) 855-7405 or visit www.booniesfl.com.

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Waterfront Estate In Palm Beach Polo

Waterfront Estate In Palm Beach Polo Private, Gated Estate Overlooks The Championship Golf Course And Features A Luxurious Backyard Retreat

Photos Courtesy Carol Sollak

This exclusive, Tuscan-styled estate is situated on a waterfront lot in the coveted neighborhood of Cypress Island within the Palm Beach Polo community. Boasting over half an acre of land, the home overlooks a lake and the 16th green of the championship golf course. Built in 2014, the luxurious estate includes 7,862 square feet of living space, five bedrooms, five full and two half bathrooms, a three-car garage and an exquisite backyard retreat with a modern pool. The property features two privately gated driveways, a home generator, and impact glass windows and doors throughout. The refined interior features handcrafted woodwork throughout, lofty coffered ceilings, gorgeous wood and marble flooring, a custom wine cellar and bar, an elevator, a fireplace and much more. There is a main level guest suite complete with a private bath and wet bar, as well as a second floor suite with access to an expansive balcony with amazing views. The oversized outdoor living area is equipped with retractable screens, an outdoor kitchen, a fireplace and blissful views.

 

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A Passion For Education

A Passion For Education
Elbridge Gale Elementary School’s Principal Gail Pasterczyk Has Led The School Since It Opened

Story by Deborah Welky | Photos by Denise Fleischman

While Elbridge Gale Elementary School is located in one of Wellington’s older neighborhoods, it is actually one of the newer schools in the community. Located near the Wellington library, the school has had only had one principal since opening in 2006 — longtime local educator Gail Pasterczyk.

With her car buried deep in the snow of upstate New York, Pasterczyk, then a first-year teacher, decided to spend spring break visiting her grandparents in Florida. While here, she decided to apply for some teaching positions and was offered three.

“I went back, told my roommate that I was moving to Florida, and packed up immediately after finishing the school year,” Pasterczyk recalled. “I took a position teaching students with emotional behavior disorders at Highland Elementary School. But it was like I wasn’t even working. It was like I was always on vacation because the weather was so beautiful.”

When Highland’s program was moved to South Olive Elementary School three years later, Pasterczyk moved with it. After getting married, she moved to Wellington in 1982 and went to work at the newly opened Wellington Elementary School under its legendary Principal Buz Spooner. While there, she coordinated the school’s Exceptional Student Education (ESE) programs and started its inclusion program as well.

“That’s where I got the bug for leadership,” Pasterczyk said. “Buz called me his ‘AP for ESE students and teachers.’ So, I went to Nova University and got my leadership degree in 1987.”

She next served six years as assistant principal at Manatee Elementary School, and then became principal at Indian Pines Elementary School in Lake Worth. It was then a struggling, D-rated school.

“When I got there, Indian Pines was one point away from being an F-rated school,” Pasterczyk said. “It took me two years, but I got that letter grade raised to an A and kept it there for the next four years I was at the school.”

Yet, when she heard that a new school was opening in Wellington, she had to apply. She was hired as the principal of an as-yet-unnamed elementary school then physically located in “concretables” behind Wellington Landings Middle School.

“It was hard to leave Indian Pines, but I was ready for a new challenge, and my heart was in Wellington,” Pasterczyk said. “Wellington supports its schools like no other community.”

Coming in on the ground floor, Pasterczyk was able to put her stamp on the new school. “I had weekly meetings with the construction crew, and I was able to pick the design and the colors. We had a committee comprised of myself, my staff and students, and that’s how we got the school colors. The students picked gold, the staff picked green and my favorite color has always been purple, so every piece of furniture — the chairs and the file cabinets — is purple. It makes it a fun, happy place for elementary students.”

Parents, students and others submitted potential names for the school.

“We wanted a science-based school with extensive gardens, and when we researched names, the entire committee just loved learning about Elbridge Gale, an important person in Florida history,” Pasterczyk said. “He was a school superintendent in the late 1800s, a minister and a horticulturist. He actually brought the Haden mango to South Florida, and Mangonia Park is named after that.”

Pasterczyk chose her staff members carefully.

“I was able to hire all my staff — every single person. It’s a hand-picked, superstar staff comprised of many award winners,” she said. “I have two Palm Beach County teachers of the year, a Hispanic teacher of the year and an art teacher of the year — they’re incredible.”

She opened the school with the concept of departmentalization, that teachers would teach one subject they’re passionate about. “This way, every time there’s new curriculum and new standards, they become experts in their field,” Pasterczyk said. “Happy teachers make happy students, and they like working in teams to meet the needs of each child.”

Elbridge Gale is also home to many award-winning clubs, such as its chess, academic games and Lego robotics teams. Teachers with many diverse interests have an extra opportunity to share these passions with their students.

“Twice a year, we do six weeks of one-hour club sessions three days a week,” Pasterczyk said. “Kids can try out sports, art, photography, clay, baking, science, drones, gardening, cheerleading, tie-dying or an American Girl doll club. Students in all grade levels can try a new club each day.”

Elbridge Gale is a gold level school, a model school for Positive Behavior Support, a Green School of Excellence and a five-star school. “But we also believe our students need to give back to society,” Pasterczyk said. “My school counselor, Nicole Martinez, has led our school to No. 1 in the state among schools raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.”

Leading the school during the pandemic has been a challenge for Pasterczyk.

“I don’t like to see my staff struggle,” she said. “They’re an extraordinary staff, but the challenges placed on them from the beginning of the pandemic to now are unbelievable. Due to remote learning, we’re trying to catch up students who are performing farther below their grade level than we’ve ever seen before. And the mental health issue is on the forefront of everyone’s minds. We have to help students where they are now — both academically and emotionally. And we’re learning strategies and techniques for self-care for the adults too, not just the kids.”

Yet every cloud has a silver lining.

“The biggest change I’ve seen in students today is technology, and the pandemic threw us headlong into that one,” Pasterczyk said. “The students became very tech-savvy very quickly. They are able to navigate Google Classroom and all sorts of things. I couldn’t believe what kindergarteners could do.”

The students embraced this new technology far beyond what was expected.

“It has become a major learning tool,” she said. “Now, you can’t survive if you don’t have your Chromebook. Technology has opened up new horizons and opportunities for them.”

Luckily, Pasterczyk had already brought STEM to the school, infusing science, technology, engineering and math into existing programs of study.

“That led us to become a STEM-certified school,” she said. “Palm Beach County has a very rigorous certification progress. We met the criteria, and we are also the only school in the county that has nationally certified STEM teachers who have taken master’s courses in it. We are a designated STEM choice school for students within our boundaries, and big garden grants came with that, so we have aquaponic and hydroponic gardens, raised gardens with a garden bed for every grade level, and a Seminole Indian-built chickee hut for native learning involvement. We sell our produce to staff and parents, and the money we make goes back into the program.”

Pasterczyk credits her love of education to her father, Noel Shevack.

“My dad was a nuclear engineer for General Electric, and he really wanted me to be an engineer, but my passion, from a young age, was working with students with disabilities,” Pasterczyk said. “I did so at a summer camp each year, and I did respite care for 12-year-old autistic twin boys whose parents could never get a sitter, and for a baby who needed to be fed with a feeding tube. When I went to college, I had a dual major — exceptional student education and elementary education — and I did double student teaching. My dad is the one who impressed upon me the value of education.”

Many others have supported her along the way. “When I was at South Olive Elementary, Margaret Brockmiller put me on her leadership team and encouraged me to go into leadership,” Pasterczyk recalled. “When I won the William T. Dwyer Award in special education, it gave me the confidence to go into leadership.”

Pasterczyk started Elbridge Gale, and she isn’t finished yet. “In the not-too-distant future, I will retire, but not just yet,” she said. “I have my passion and my love for what I do every day. My one daughter has one child, so my grandson is now a student at Elbridge Gale, and I’d like to be here for him. I have my work family and my home family. I couldn’t do what I do without the support of my assistant principal, Chad Phillips, my husband David, and the Wellington community, which embraces schools and education.”

She particularly thanked the Village of Wellington for its Keely Spinelli grant program, which gives local public schools the funds necessary to help struggling students.

“When I move on, Elbridge Gale’s extraordinary staff will carry on the tradition of excellence,” Pasterczyk said. “This school will be in good hands.”

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New Branding, Same Hospital

New Branding, Same Hospital Palms West Hospital Among 12 Hospitals In Southeast Florida To Adopt The HCA Florida Healthcare Name

HCA Florida Palms West Hospital recently announced its new name and new look. It is one of 12 hospitals in Southeast Florida officially adopting a new name that incorporates HCA Florida Healthcare.

HCA Florida Palms West Hospital signals the hospital’s connection to one of the nation’s largest collaborative healthcare networks.

The name was announced at a special celebration held on the hospital’s Southern Blvd. campus on Thursday, March 3.

“This is an exciting time for our community. After providing healthcare services to the citizens of Palm Beach County for more than 36 years under a singular Palms West Hospital brand, we will now unite as one network, one brand, joining nearly 50 other HCA Healthcare hospitals across Florida,” said Jason Kimbrell, chief executive officer of HCA Florida Palms West Hospital. “The community can take comfort in knowing that the network was built to make access to services seamless with a patient-centered approach that connects the patients to the care they need close to home.”

HCA Florida Healthcare connects more than 11,000 staff physicians, 77,000 colleagues, 49 hospitals, and more than 350 physician practices, freestanding emergency rooms and other sites of care across the state.

As a comprehensive and connected network, HCA Florida Healthcare has a unique ability to continually improve quality, expand patient access to care, address the ongoing nursing shortage, respond during times of disaster, advance diversity in healthcare, and fund and collaborate with nonprofit organizations to address high-priority community needs.

The announcement was made simultaneously with holding a blood drive at 14 locations throughout South Florida — a partnership between HCA Florida Healthcare and OneBlood.

“Our 14 hospitals in South Florida were fortunate not to be adversely affected by the drastic drop in blood donations that is happening in other parts of the nation,” said Charles Gressle, president of HCA East Florida Division. “It is important a sustained donor response continues. We’re confident this unique blood drive event will bring our colleagues and the community together to donate blood and further ensure our blood provider, OneBlood, has a ready supply for patients in need of lifesaving transfusions.”

Susan Forbes of OneBlood noted that the pandemic has up-ended the traditional venues for blood drives.

“Remote work impacts participation at corporate blood drives, many high schools and colleges have not resumed blood drives, and the lack of large community events limits where we can take the Big Red Bus for blood drives,” Forbes said. “We are grateful to HCA Florida Healthcare for their partnership and for shinning a spotlight on the ongoing need for blood donations.”

HCA Florida Healthcare chose March 3 as the day to host the blood drive because it aligned with the introduction of its new statewide brand. Each donor received a $20 e-gift card and superhero themed t-shirt, courtesy of OneBlood.

Serving Palm Beach County for more than 36 years, HCA Florida Palms West Hospital is a 200-bed full-service acute care hospital. Specializing in emergency services, dedicated pediatric emergency services, pediatric services, concussion testing and treatment, pediatric oncology services, pediatric intensive care services, orthopedic and spine care services, maternity services, Level II neonatal services, and minimally invasive and robotic surgery, the hospital provides high quality, exceptional patient care to residents of the western communities and beyond.

The hospital has been recognized by Healthgrades in the top 10 percent in the nation for general surgery and named among its 100 best hospitals for prostate surgery. The hospital’s 24-hour emergency room, pediatric emergency room and the Children’s Hospital at Palms West provide specialized hospital services for adults and children of all ages.

HCA Florida Healthcare, a part of HCA Healthcare, is a family of more than 450 affiliated sites of care, including hospitals, physician practices and freestanding emergency rooms, offering the state’s leading network of personalized care.

United as a statewide network in 2021, HCA Florida Healthcare includes 11,000 experienced doctors and 77,000 colleagues working together to deliver advanced, collaborative care to more than 6.4 million patients each year.

HCA Florida Healthcare is committed to improving more lives in more ways and giving back to the communities it serves. The network provided nearly $836.6 million in uncompensated care and invested significantly in innovative technologies and facilities across Florida, including the new $360 million state-of-the-art, multi-specialty HCA Florida University Hospital in Davie.

A strong advocate for the next generation of healthcare professionals, HCA Florida Healthcare is also a major supporter of university-based healthcare programs and residencies and fellowships throughout the Sunshine State. For additional information, visit www.hcafloridahealthcare.com.

HCA Florida Palms West Hospital is located at 13001 Southern Blvd. For more info., call (561) 798-3300 or visit www.palmswesthospital.com.

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