50 Over 50 Project 2023

50 Over 50 Project 2023 Capturing The Radiance Of 50 Remarkable Women Over 50

It is an enduring truth that beauty transcends time. Renowned Wellington photographer Dannielle Judd has breathed new life into the words “beauty is timeless” in a novel way through her 50 Women Over 50 project. “It was high time to initiate a dialogue on the elegance of aging and embrace the confidence that comes with being at ease in our own skin,” said Judd, a Wellington resident.

Thus began a transformative journey with 50 women, all united by the shared experience of surpassing 50 years. Wellington The Magazine is once again proud to support Judd on this unique celebration of resilience, sagacity and allure.

Though a seasoned photographer for years, Judd’s ardor for photography as a profession took root when she turned 48. Despite having amassed a trove of photographs and harboring a perpetual creative urge, the leap to a full-fledged career took its time. While Judd wasn’t the first pioneer of the 50 Over 50 project, the moment she encountered the concept, she recognized it as her calling. As a woman over 50, she was acutely aware of the prevalent stereotypes surrounding aging and sought to debunk them by showcasing how so many women hit their stride at age 50.

Determined to capture the diversity in nationality, personality and profession, Judd launched this distinctive photography project. Recognizing that many women spend their lives defined by roles as wives or mothers, she utilized social media to invite interested participants to complete a questionnaire.

“Following conversations and a comprehensive explanation of the process, we proceeded to book wardrobe consultations. Participants came into my studio and had access to my ‘Dream Wardrobe Collection,’ which boasts more than 200 dresses and gowns, accompanied by a plethora of accessories for their photo shoots,” Judd explained. “Then came the exciting part — the photo shoot! Typically, the ladies wear three to five outfits during their sessions.”

For many participants, this experience proved to be a metamorphic journey. Initial low expectations often transformed into radiant confidence after hair and makeup sessions. “Their inner light shines through; you can see them exuding confidence. It’s truly inspirational for me as a woman and a photographer to share this experience with them,” Judd said.

In an effort to foster trust in the process, Judd shared her own experiences with clients. Many had been eagerly awaiting the chance to shine, challenging the notion that women over age 50 are slowing down. The project spanned approximately 12 months, and the outcomes were beyond measure.

Judd, however, never doubted its success. “These women fed my soul,” she reflected, attributing her sustained enthusiasm to their inspiring stories. “With each lady being so unique, I quickly realized that creating customized sessions would be a no-brainer.”

One of the inaugural participants, Amy, a breast cancer survivor, set the tone with her infectious energy, and this year’s models all had amazing stories to share as well. Catherine Carcioppolo loved the experience, adding what a wonderful photographer Judd is in “capturing the essence of 50 Women Over 50 and changing their whole life through photographing them and showing that they are beautiful.”

Judd, reviewing the images, marveled at the beauty, wisdom, creativity and uniqueness that each woman brought to her studio.

When the inaugural project was documented in 2021, Judd eagerly anticipated the sequel — and another round of 50 Over 50 for 2023 was born. “It was such an amazing experience,” she exclaimed, adding that she couldn’t wait to get started again.

While some participants entered without a clear vision of how they wanted to be photographed, others brought grand ideas. “I love empowering women,” Judd said. “They are more than clients; they’re my friends, and some even feel like sisters. The relationships formed are truly invaluable. I believe that as women, we should support, uplift, embrace and cheer for each other. Together, we can achieve anything.”

As a woman approaching 56 in January, Judd wanted to convey that women are inherently beautiful at every age. “Beauty knows no bounds,” she emphasized. “You deserve to be celebrated and honored.”

The unveiling of the 2023 year-long 50 Over 50 project took place with a celebration on Oct. 28 at the Mall at Wellington Green. This year, Judd partnered with two local charities that do amazing work to help children in crisis — Grandma’s Place in Royal Palm Beach and Speak Up for Kids Palm Beach County. A silent auction was held with 100 percent of the proceeds being divided between the two charities. “This is one of the highlights of doing a project like this,” Judd said.

Judd recently announced the exciting news that she has launched a new 40 Over 40 portrait series. She looks forward to photographing these women and featuring them in a gallery exhibition as well, sharing their stories, which will inspire and celebrate the next chapter of their lives.

Further details about Judd’s upcoming projects can be found at www.danniellejudd.com.


Holiday Gift Guide The Mall At Wellington Green

Holiday Gift Guide The Mall At Wellington Green

This holiday season, the Mall at Wellington Green truly has it all. With gifts across a variety of categories and price ranges, no matter who or what you are searching for, the mall has an option. Happy shopping!

As the holiday season approaches, there is no better place to immerse yourself in the festive spirit than the Mall at Wellington Green. This bustling shopping haven is not just a mall; it is a winter wonderland of twinkling lights, cheerful carols and the infectious buzz of holiday excitement.

With its diverse array of stores, the mall caters to all shopper’s whims and fancies. From high-end fashion boutiques to charming specialty stores, you will find the perfect holiday gifts for everyone on your list. The air is filled with the scent of freshly brewed coffee from the trendy cafés, providing a delightful respite for tired shoppers.

Meanwhile, the mall’s enchanting holiday decorations create a magical ambiance, making every visit a memorable experience. Giant sparkling ornaments dangle from the towering Christmas trees, and festive wreaths adorn storefronts, inviting shoppers to embrace the joy of the season.

What sets the Mall at Wellington Green apart is its commitment to creating a family-friendly atmosphere. Visit the Ice Palace and immerse yourself in a winter wonderland filled with arctic animals. Enjoy a 360-degree movie experience amid a magical snowfall. Upon leaving the Ice Palace, Santa himself awaits to visit with children of all ages to hear their holiday wishes.

Whether you are a seasoned holiday shopper or just beginning your gift-buying journey, the Mall at Wellington Green promises a festive and joyful experience that will leave you with a sleigh-full of bags and a heart full of holiday cheer. So, gather your shopping list, put on your coziest sweater, and get ready to make lasting memories at Wellington’s premier shopping destination. Happy holidays!


Jewelry Box Toucan Clutch
This gorgeous clutch, covered in Australian crystals, was made for the sparkly woman in your life. With colorful details that will wow the crowd, this eye candy evening bag is a statement piece that will never go out of style. $450

Pandora’s Era Bezel Lab-Grown Diamond Pendant Necklace
This beautiful, timeless necklace makes a fantastic gift for that someone special. Pandora’s sterling silver pendant necklace features a 0.15 carat, lab-grown diamond in a bezel setting with a sleek, contemporary aesthetic. $350

Envy’s Psycho Bunny Men’s Classic Baseball Cap
This colorful cap is a classic that will never go out of style. Complete with the embroidered Psycho Bunny logo (skull and bones with big rabbit ears), this hat makes a perfect accessory for any fan of the brand’s trendy apparel. $35

Lifetime Kitchen Smeg Two-Slice Toaster
Dolce & Gabbana-Sicily Is My Love
This unique designer toaster makes a perfect gift for those with a knack for fashionable cooking. Smeg and Dolce & Gabbana have joined forces to create this kitchen mainstay, which is both artistic and useful. With two generously sized compartments, automatic pop-up features and stainless-steel details, this toaster is truly state of the art. $850

Apple Store iPhone 15
Apple’s new iPhone 15 is the perfect prize for anyone looking for an upgrade this holiday season. The iPhone 15 offers a great balance between functionality, longevity and price. The new model touts a sleek, upgraded design, high-quality camera, and comes in five fun colors, including black, blue, pink, yellow and green. Starting at $799

Dillard’s UGG Tazz Suede Platform Clog Slippers
These trendy, best-selling UGG slippers make a cute and cozy gift this holiday season. Available in four adorable color schemes, your favorite fashionista will be thrilled to unwrap these on Christmas. With adorable, braided detailing, a plush interior, a high-quality suede exterior and durable soles, these UGGs are a versatile shoe that will last for years. $130 (Adult) | $90 (Youth)

ManCave For Men Holiday Gift Card
Give an experiential gift to the well-groomed guy in your life this holiday season with a ManCave gift card. This unique, barbershop-meets-spa experience is catered toward men and offers an array of services, including haircuts, facials and manicures. Plus, guests over 21 can toast their new ’do with a complimentary craft beer or glass of wine. $50 to $200

GameStop Nintendo Switch Lite Handheld Console
Any gamer is sure to appreciate the Nintendo Switch Lite Handheld Console, optimized for personal, handheld play. The device has great Switch gaming capabilities and is available in a variety of colors. This product is truly on-the-go gaming at its best. $151.99

Verified Sneaker Boutique Air Jordan 1 OG Chicago “Lost & Found”
Verified Sneaker Boutique has a sick pair of kicks for your favorite style star. Air Jordan Nikes are comfortable, versatile, trendy and totally timeless. Available in a multitude of sizes, for both children and adults, they make a great gift for street wear and sneaker lovers.

Perfect Oil 500 ML Diffuser
This diffuser is a functional gift that pairs with any of Perfect Oil’s array of essential oils. Doubling as décor, the diffuser features a wooden base and an LED light with seven color settings. $59.99

The Mall at Wellington Green is located at
10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd. in Wellington.
Learn more at www.shopwellingtongreen.com.


Experience The Magic of the Holidays In the Village of Wellington

Experience The Magic of the Holidays In the Village of Wellington

By Shannon Anastasio

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration and togetherness. In the Village of Wellington, this sentiment is taken to heart as the community hosts a series of magical holiday events that will leave you and your loved ones in awe. From festive parades to Wellington Winterfest and everything in between, our village offers a holiday experience like no other. So, mark your calendars for the following dates, and get ready to immerse yourself in the enchanting world of the Village of Wellington this holiday season.

Holiday Cultural Celebration, Thursday, Nov. 30
Wellington’s holiday season kicks off with the Holiday Cultural Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 30 at the Wellington Amphitheater. This event is a showcase of the rich cultural diversity that exists within the Village of Wellington. Best of all, it’s free to attend, making it accessible to all members of the community.

The Holiday Cultural Celebration is a delightful opportunity to embrace the spirit of the season with friends and family. It’s a day filled with enchanting performances, art displays and cultural exhibitions. From music to dance to traditional cuisine, you’ll have the chance to experience the world’s cultures right in your own backyard. Visit www.wellingtonfl.gov/967/holiday-cultural-celebration for full details and immerse yourself in the captivating tapestry of global traditions.

Wellington Winterfest 2023, Friday, Dec. 8
Wellington Winterfest 2023, hosted by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and the Village of Wellington, promises to once again be a night to remember. Taking place on Friday, Dec. 8, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Wellington Amphitheater, this event is free to attend and boasts a wealth of exciting features.

The evening will be headlined by the renowned musical icon, philanthropist, actor and TV star Vanilla Ice. His electrifying performance is sure to get everyone in the holiday spirit. In addition to the music, Winterfest offers a wide array of delightful activities, including delicious food vendors, exhibitors, the Live 360 photobooth, live musical and dance performances, and much more.

For the young and the young at heart, there’s the Blizzard Beach interactive area, and you can even visit with Santa himself. Adult attendees can relax in designated lounge areas, and pet lovers can explore pet adoptions. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to get some holiday shopping done with a variety of vendors on site. Don’t forget to capture the magic of the night in the snow globe photobooth.

For more information about Winterfest 2023, visit the Wellington Chamber of Commerce web site at www.wellingtonchamber.com. With a lineup like this, it’s a holiday celebration that you won’t want to miss.

Holiday Boat Parade, Saturday, Dec. 9
Prepare to be amazed as local residents and boating enthusiasts “Light up the Lake” with the Holiday Boat Parade on Lake Wellington. This event, set to take place on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 6 p.m., is a splendid spectacle for all ages.

The parade, visible from the Town Center Promenade, features festively decorated boats parading behind the Wellington Community Center. At approximately 6:30 p.m., the waters of Lake Wellington come alive with a dazzling display of lights and holiday cheer. Make sure to bring your own seating for a more comfortable viewing experience.

The Holiday Boat Parade is a tradition that brings the community together, combining the magic of the holiday season with the beauty of Lake Wellington. It’s a wonderful opportunity to share in the joy of the holidays with your loved ones, all while enjoying the picturesque waterside setting.

Wellington Holiday Parade, Sunday, Dec. 10
The 39th annual Wellington Holiday Parade, hosted by the Village of Wellington and the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, is a cherished tradition that returns this year on Sunday, Dec. 10. This year’s theme is “Holidays Around the World,” promising a multicultural and diverse parade that celebrates the spirit of unity during the holiday season.

The parade kicks off at 1:30 p.m. and winds its way down Forest Hill Blvd., from Wellington Trace to Ken Adams Way. It’s a judged parade, so you can expect imaginative floats, marching bands, characters, dance troupes and more. This event is not only a visual feast but also a day of free fun and festivities for the entire family.

Gather your loved ones and come out to enjoy this fantastic holiday event. To learn more about the parade and its details, visit www.cpbchamber.com.

Be aware that road closures will be in effect, and Forest Hill Blvd. will be closed from its northern intersection at Wellington Trace to South Shore Blvd. between 1 p.m. and approximately 5:30 p.m. So, plan your travel accordingly and seek alternate routes during this time. If you’re parking at Town Center, be aware that vehicles parked there will not be able to exit until the conclusion of the parade.

Other Events To Enjoy 
In addition to these events, the Village of Wellington also hosts many other holiday-themed gatherings, ensuring that everyone in the community can find something special to enjoy during the festive season. These include the Senior Holiday Party for ages 50-plus, the annual Children’s Holiday Fishing Classic and the annual Wellington Holiday Jingle Bell Run 5K. Check out the calendar at www.wellingtonfl.gov to learn more.

Lakeside Market Fridays; Food Truck & Music Series Thursdays
Underway now and continuing through Feb. 23, 2024, the Lakeside Market at Wellington Town Center is open on Friday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. It offers a variety of goods, and admission and parking are free. This pet-friendly market is a great place to enjoy a holiday shopping experience with the whole family.

To keep the festivities going, the Food Truck & Music Series on Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m. is a great way to unwind and enjoy delicious meals from approximately 18 food trucks in attendance each week. This event also features live performances by local tribute bands and music artists. Be sure to bring your own blankets or chairs for seating. The Food Truck & Music Series promises an entertaining evening for all ages. Be on the lookout for a list of food trucks expected to attend and get ready to indulge in delectable treats.

As the holiday season approaches, the Village of Wellington is offering many events and activities to celebrate this special time of year. Whether you’re watching the beautifully illuminated boats in the Holiday Boat Parade, singing along with Vanilla Ice at Winterfest 2023 or marveling at the creativity in the annual Wellington Holiday Parade, you’ll be making cherished holiday memories that will last a lifetime. So, don’t miss out on these magical holiday events. Share in the joy, laughter and togetherness that this wonderful community has to offer and create lasting memories with your friends and family. Celebrate the holidays the Wellington way, and you’ll find yourself filled with the spirit of the season.


The Future Of Construction

The Future Of Construction Wellington Company Printed Farms Revolutionizing The Building Business

Story by Mike May  |  Photos by Elysian Media

Quicker to build, longer lasting, more resilient against catastrophic weather, more freedom in the design process and no more expensive to construct. These are a few of the many ways to describe the appeal of the design and construction technology now being pioneered by Wellington-based Printed Farms LLC, which uses a state-of-the-art 3D printing technique to build structures such as homes, horse barns and everything in between.

Recently, Printed Farms showcased this 3D printing technology during an open house when it unveiled its latest project, a state-of-the-art, luxury, 10,678-square-foot equestrian facility and horse barn on Hollow Tree Lane, located just off Flying Cow Road in Wellington.

Using the computerized 3D printing technique, as opposed to traditional construction methods, the horse barn’s column structures at the facility on Hollow Tree Lane were created with a 3D robotic arm.

The building that resulted is being referred to as the “world’s largest 3D printed structure,” said Jim Ritter, CEO and founder of Wellington-based Printed Farms.

According to Ritter, the increase of major catastrophic climate events, such as hurricanes and tropical storms in South Florida, will demand buildings that are stronger and more sustainable. The structures created by Printed Farms will fill that need. They are also energy efficient and lower cooling and heating costs.

Interest in this emerging technology has been extensive, and the Wellington project has garnered media attention from not just local TV stations and newspapers, but also from Business Insider magazine and MSNBC.

From the outside, the new equestrian facility on Hollow Tree Lane looks like any other structure built by a general contractor, but Ritter said that there are stark differences between what Printed Farms can do using solid concrete as opposed to what conventional builders are doing to construct a home with wood and concrete block.

“I’m on a mission. Our 3D printing will radically change the construction industry to become leaner, more efficient and sustainable,” Ritter said. “From shortening the supply chain to lessening design processes and reducing the industry’s waste output, the benefits of 3D printing will far outweigh the accustomed methods of construction that we use today.”

From a construction-cost point of view, Ritter said his business represents a winning product that will excite consumers.

“We will beat — cost-wise — concrete block in two or three years,” he said. “And there’s no need for insulation for our buildings with our technology because they are so dense.”

Ritter believes that Printed Farms is well-positioned to lead the country and possibly the world in 3D printed buildings. The demand for its services is coming from across Palm Beach County and beyond.

According to Ritter, he’s had discussions with officials from Ukraine who want to use his technology when it’s safe to rebuild once the current war is over. There has also been interest from corporate officials at Caterpillar.

Ritter noted that while his design and construction technology is an attractive proposition to any potential client, the downside right now is that he only has two 3D printers at the moment, so he’s limited on the number of projects that he can take on.

While Ritter is currently focused on the future of the building construction industry, he has also been a part of the industry’s traditional past. “I have helped build three other horse barns in Wellington using concrete blocks,” Ritter said. “But our new technology is better and is the wave of the future.”

And, of course, he sees Printed Farms as leading the way.

Now in his 60s, Ritter said that his completed projects will outlast him and generations to come. “This new horse barn will last at least 100 years,” he said.

Ritter is also committed to educating future leaders in the construction industry about this new technology.

“I am working with officials at the University of Florida on a curriculum involving robotics,” Ritter added.

To learn more about Printed Farms and this cutting-edge construction technology, e-mail info@printedfarms.com or visit www.printedfarms.com.


From Paris, With Love

From Paris, With Love Unique Event Le Diner En Blanc Returns On Saturday, Dec. 16

Story By Kat Fleischman  |  Photos Courtesy Dreamland Creative and RSC Media

Le Diner en Blanc will return to the West Palm Beach area this month for its 2023 edition. This elegant and secret affair has become the foodie and dancing holiday event of the year, and on Saturday, Dec. 16, a new secret location will be revealed, and guests will dine and dance under the stars.

Le Diner en Blanc is an event that transports guests into another world while celebrating the local community. The sea of people adorned in white is Instagrammable, while meeting new people or reuniting with longtime friends. The theme this year is “From Paris, With Love.” Dinner à la française will be the centerpiece, and conversation and champagne will flow with French-inspired entertainment. The night will close with one of the best DJs. Dancing shoes are a must.

Le Diner en Blanc in West Palm Beach is hosted by Modernique & Co. Project Management with more than 12 years of experience in hospitality management and event production.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing this spectacular event to picturesque Palm Beach County,” said Fabie Reid, project director and co-host of Le Diner En Blanc. “Over the years, we’ve taken this event to various stunning locations, from Boca and Riviera to downtown West Palm Beach, and each time, it has been a captivating experience to witness our community come together at our carefully guarded secret venue. This event serves as a remarkable opportunity to not only unite our residents, but also to showcase the splendor of this region to those from beyond our county borders.”

Excitement is building toward the Dec. 16 event. “We are very excited for this year’s theme ‘From Paris With Love,’ where the guests will be transported to a Parisian adventure without leaving Palm Beach County,” said Jessica Palmer, head leader of Le Diner en Blanc West Palm Beach.

Le Diner en Blanc wants to help boost the local economy by encouraging attendees to shop locally and discover some of the most spectacular event venues that get transformed with the picnic setting served by local vendors, such as, but not limited to, Ganache Bakery, Absolute Party Rentals, Trindy Gourmet and Epic Catering.

To maintain the uniqueness of Le Diner en Blanc, every guest observes certain requirements, such as the dress code: head-to-toe in white only. Elegance and originality are key. Jewelry and shoes can be silver, gold or nude. Table settings and picnic items are all white. At this French-influenced event, only wine and/or champagne are served.

As per the county and state, guests cannot bring their own alcohol. Guests wishing to enjoy some wine or champagne must reserve online through Le Diner en Blanc’s e-store. However, guests are welcome to bring their own non-alcoholic beverages.

To ensure that the location secret is kept undisclosed until the last minute, guests meet at their assigned departure location and are escorted by a Diner en Blanc volunteer table leader for bus departures or pedestrian groups.

To make sure that the event location is left as clean as when guests arrive, they are required to leave with all their belongings, leftovers and litter.

Guests should bring a small picnic basket or white cooler comprised of fine food, white tablecloth and serviettes, as well as proper stemware and white dinnerware. Tables and chairs are provided at the event.

A catered meal option can be pre-ordered online and picked up on-site, for those who do not wish to pack their own. Guests wishing to do so must reserve online through Le Diner en Blanc’s e-store.

Le Diner en Blanc West Palm Beach acknowledges Champagne Pommery as a national partner, with Vie de Rêve and the Village of Wellington as official local partners of the 2023 edition.

To get the opportunity to be part of the experience, people can sign up now by visiting westpalmbeach.dinerenblanc.com/register, adding your e-mail, then click “validate” to enter your name. Once on the list, an invitation will be sent to you by the end of the day.

Le Diner en Blanc is so much more than an event. It’s a unique cultural movement that empowers friends of friends to gather and celebrate their shared passions for life, food, fashion and community, year after year, with a pinch of mystery and a large serving of spontaneity.

Elegantly dressed all in white, guests arrive at a secret location for a chic mass picnic. They bring their own tables, chairs, picnic baskets — all the trimmings — to sit down with friends and make new connections in one of their area’s most beautiful public spaces. The location remains secret up until the very moment of arrival. Over the course of the evening, guests from all backgrounds eat, dance and reconnect with the finer things in life, as they appreciate the night’s magical experience.

Tashia Hernandez, the event’s lead project manager and head leader, loves the aspect of the guests not knowing where they are going until they arrive.

“The community comes together for one night, and we all just put our daily worries away and escape into this magical experience together — celebrating life, joie de vivre, friends, family and dancing all night,” Hernandez said. “That’s what makes Le Diner en Blanc unique to me and always an annual holiday experience to look forward to.”

Jimmy Moise, the event’s co-host producer, said that groups, organizations and businesses are invited this year to celebrate their holiday party within Le Diner en Blanc.

“Special packages are made for them where all is inclusive: décor, picnic accessories, tablescape, food and wine,” Moise said. “All they have to do is show up, and we take care of the rest so they can fully enjoy their holiday experience.”

More than 120 cities in 40 countries have joined the ever-growing and international network to celebrate gourmet cuisine, offer extraordinary entertainment and bring together vibrant individuals around the world. While Diner en Blanc International is headquartered in Montreal, Canada, every local event is hosted by passionate local organizers who fell in love with the original Parisian concept and wanted to bring it home and dress it up with local flair.

To learn more about this unique cultural phenomenon, visit www.dinerenblanc.com.


A Unique Charter School

A Unique Charter School The Learning Center, Which Moved To The Western Communities Earlier This Year, Serves Students With Autism

Story by Joshua Manning  |  Photos by Denise Fleischman

The Learning Center, a charter school serving children with autism, moved to the western communities earlier this year, adding to the diversity of educational options available in the community.

In order to open in time for the current school year, this unique school needed support from the Village of Royal Palm Beach after being left without a home on short notice.

“The Palm Beach County School District and the Village of Royal Palm Beach all worked together to make this possible,” Executive Director Stacie Routt said. “We feel that we pulled off a small miracle to make this happen, and the children are flourishing.”

The school, which serves students ages 3 to 14, with plans to add high school grades next year, originated in 1999 and was one of the first charter schools in the State of Florida. Back then, it operated out of a church building in Palm Beach Gardens.

“We started with six students, and now we have 150 students, which is our capacity,” Routt said. “We provide services for children with autism.”

Most recently, the nonprofit, tuition-free charter school operated out of a location in Jupiter. However, a disagreement with their lease renewal over the summer gave the Learning Center less than 30 days’ notice to move from their previous location and find a new home.

“We found this beautiful facility that was a pre-existing school, and it met the needs of our students,” Routt said. “We were able to move in quickly and open for the start of the school year.”

Luckily, the school only needed to do cosmetic upgrades before opening and didn’t need to move any walls. There was sanding and painting, as well as being sanitized and prepared for fire safety.

Located at the northeast corner of Royal Palm Beach and Southern boulevards in the Royal Plaza, the site had been the longtime home of Western Academy Charter School, until that school moved to a larger campus further west on Southern Blvd. in 2022.

Routt was particularly appreciative of the village’s support in fast-tracking the necessary approvals.

“They called a special meeting for us to help us get our approvals through with warm and welcome arms,” she said. “Everything from the fire inspections to the Health Department did a fast timeline to inspect and ensure our school was safe. We had people bring us welcome baskets from the neighborhood, welcoming us here. I could not get over the generosity of everybody.”

The necessary special exception approval was granted in August, just as the school year was beginning. From the village’s perspective, having the Learning Center in the community was an easy decision to make, since services for students with autism are underserved in the western communities. Also, the school’s capacity of 150 in the 30,000-square-foot location is far less dense than the site’s previous occupant, which served more than 400 students in the same space.

Routt said that the school’s current student count is 137, but a new classroom opening in January will bring it to capacity at 150.

“We have about 27 students in the Royal Palm Beach and Wellington area that have joined us since the move,” Routt said. “It is definitely an underserved area, and we are happy to be here providing services for these students.”

The majority of the students, and nearly all the staff, made the move with the school from its previous Jupiter location.

“Our student-teacher ratio is six to 10 students in a classroom with four to five professionals, including speech, that rotate in and out of the classroom,” Routt said. “Occupational therapy and board-certified behavior analysts also rotate. Those services are provided to students in the classroom.”

As necessary, pullout sessions can be held in a less-distracting area.

The school offers an extensive fine arts program that includes physical education, art, music and STEAM, as well as an occupational therapy room and a multi-sensory experience room led by the occupational therapist. Students also have access to a state-of-the-art computer lab.

The new location is much larger than the schools’ previous home and has several added amenities, including an indoor gymnasium, cafeteria and kitchen.

Staff members, meanwhile, are fully trained in providing services for students on the autism spectrum.

“Autism itself is a neurological disorder,” Routt said. “We know from experience that providing repetition opportunities for learning, and thinking outside the box for learning opportunities, is life-changing for the students.”

Through specialized educational methods, many of the students become more social.

“They can do anything they set their minds to with proper instruction and opportunities,” Routt said. “They have so much to give to the community.”

Ideally, Routt hopes to one day have a stand-alone facility in the western communities to further expand the school.

“We are looking for anywhere between five and 15 acres, and then further expanding the services we can provide for children,” she said.

But for now, it’s all about the students.

“They are our primary focus,” Routt said. “We believe that every moment we have with them makes a difference for their future. We have seen them grow in so many ways. It is such a special thing to witness and an inspiring job to have.”

The Learning Center is located at 650 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. To learn more about the school, call (561) 567-7930 or visit www.thelearningcenter.org.


Enjoy Amazing Pizza And So Much More

Enjoy Amazing Pizza And So Much More Big Rocco’s Pizzeria And Tavern In RPB Is Part Neighborhood Bar and Part Italian Restaurant

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

Big Rocco’s Pizzeria and Tavern is part pizzeria and part neighborhood bar with a weekly lineup of live music to rock anyone’s musical tastes.

The bar concept includes pool leagues, poker, bingo and sporting events meshed with a lively crowd. There’s also amped-up pub food and a bar full of specials. But it’s the traditional New York-style pizza at Big Rocco’s that is the true star with a fan base all its own.

The restaurant has become a destination for its New York-style flavors, opening its doors in 2019 at the Village Shoppes, located at the northwest corner of Southern Blvd. and State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach.

Big Rocco’s is a loyal go-to for pizza lovers craving the authentic flavor, sauce and crust.

“It’s all made from scratch — the dough and the sauce, using San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes,” said owner Vikas Bansal, who moved from India to New York City, and that’s where he quickly became a fan of East Coast-style pizza. “I lived in New York City for 17 years. I always loved the pizza there.”

It became the inspiration years later when Bansal opened a gas station in Wellington. That is where the concept for Big Rocco’s came to be. Starting as a very busy “Express” pizza to-go business, Bansal decided to expand his popular pizza business into a full restaurant and tavern with live events. It has been attracting both locals and the equestrian crowd during the season, as it’s geared for people of all ages.

“We want people to come in and have a good time,” Bansal said. “Parents and kids.”

The casual atmosphere makes for a laid-back dining experience, with a wide variety of pizza choices, such as the popular BBQ Chicken Pizza, layered with a smoky sauce, generous portions of tender chicken, sprinkled with onions and bacon. It is one of the top choices on the menu.

The New Yorker Pizza is also a big seller, loaded with pepperoni, sausage, onions and mushrooms, along with a mix of fresh red and green peppers. Make it a Big Rocco’s Signature Pizza by taking all those same ingredients, then add ham, tomatoes, black olives and extra cheese.

Other interesting combinations include the Meatball Parm Pizza, topped with ricotta cheese, meatballs and fresh garlic, and the Buffalo Chicken Pizza with grilled chicken and blue cheese crumbles.

For a great deal, check out the large cheese pizza special for $10.99 Mondays and Tuesdays. Add a topping or two for 99 cents each.

Lunch specials from just $7.99 run until 3 p.m. and include a beverage or a draft beer. It includes different combinations, from two slices of pizza, or mix it up with a garden salad. Cheeseburgers or chicken tenders with fries are also available. Drink specials at that time are $3 for draft beers and $5 for house liquor.

The dining room is filled with lots of high-top seating, as well as a few large and cozy corner booths. The bar sits just toward the back with seating all along three sides. There are a number of drink specials and about a dozen beers on tap that rotate. At the bar, the top seller is Fifty States 6x distilled premium vodka.

If you’re looking to snack, the wings are a specialty that come in several flavors, from southern barbecue to honey bourbon, garlic parmesan and more. They’re marinated, baked and flash-fried for a juicy, crispy wing.

The Hangover Burger is a huge hit, oozing with toppings that include cheddar cheese, sliced tomatoes, bacon, a fried egg and mango habanero sauce to round out the flavors. There’s also stromboli and calzone choices, including a veggie option.

Piping hot meatballs made fresh from scratch are simmered in their homemade tomato sauce and sit atop spaghetti. They come with the popular garlic knots, baked and basted with butter and fresh garlic.

The New York Cheesecake is a delicious way to end a meal, topped with a variety of drizzle options, including chocolate, caramel, strawberry or blackberry.

The large pool room sits toward the back of the restaurant. It also doubles as a private party room. It includes darts and other games. A large wine selection fills the nearby wall.

The dining room is lit with warm fixtures creating a relaxed atmosphere, as Louis Prima and Dean Martin songs play on the jukebox, and paintings of Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio hang on the walls.

A variety of genres of live music fill the restaurant every Friday night, spanning from country, to pop, rock and folk. The fun continues throughout the week with poker night on Wednesdays, bingo on Thursdays and karaoke on Saturdays, as well as monthly paint-n-sip parties. Big Rocco’s also hosts a large contingent of Miami Dolphins football fans.

“We also have a charity event once a month with as many as 200 people, along with vendors, a quarter auction and more,” Bansal said. “Our goal is to be a neighborhood bar and a favorite restaurant.”

Current hours are noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and noon to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The restaurant will open daily at 11 a.m. during the winter equestrian season.

Big Rocco’s Pizzeria and Tavern is located at 10479 Southern Blvd. in Royal Palm Beach’s Village Shoppes. For more info., call (561) 318-8927 or visit www.bigroccospizzeriatavern.com. Find them on Facebook and Instagram for details on upcoming events.


WCF’S Red, White & Blue Jeans Event Returns To Honor Local Heroes On Friday, Nov. 10

WCF’S Red, White  & Blue Jeans Event Returns To Honor Local Heroes On Friday, Nov. 10

The Wellington Community Foundation’s annual Red, White & Blue Jeans “A Salute To Our Heroes” event returns to honor veterans, seniors and children in need at the Wellington National Golf Club on Friday, Nov. 10 from 6:30 to 10 p.m.

The foundation’s mission to help neighbors in need continues, with more than $500,000 in support since its inception. The foundation relies on donors, sponsors, volunteers and community partnerships to enrich the lives of fellow Wellington residents.

This year, the foundation is dedicating the event in honor of the late Tom Wenham, one of its founding members and longtime chair, who passed away at age 90 last year. His work for the foundation continued up until his final days.

In his honor, the foundation will be unveiling the “Thomas M. Wenham” Salute To Our Veterans Scholarship at this year’s event, spearheaded by Mickey Smith, a former foundation director, who raised more than $10,000 to kick off this new scholarship program in Wenham’s name. These funds, along with additional money raised for the cause, will be used to honor Wenham’s service not only to the Wellington Community Foundation, but to the nation as a proud veteran.

This event is one of the premier seasonal kickoff parties in Wellington, and also one of the most laid-back, jeans-wearing, flag-waiving events you will ever attend. It features cocktails, dinner and dancing with all your Wellington friends, neighbors and business owners.

The night is filled with touching ceremonial moments, which honor not only all the veterans in attendance, but also those who did not make it home. The event begins and ends with an empty chair ceremony led by American Legion Post 390. Along with it all is the bonus that all the money raised will stay right here in Wellington to help neighbors with a hand up. It is a great way to reconnect with old friends you haven’t seen in a while, celebrate the men and women who sacrificed so much, and perhaps even make a few new friends along the way.

The foundation continues to support and improve the quality of life for some of Wellington’s most vulnerable residents by providing food, home repairs for seniors, school uniforms, backpacks, camp programs, equestrian programs for special needs students, school grants, college scholarships, as well as packages that include socks, underwear, sneakers and an age-appropriate gift for children to open on Christmas morning, many of whom would go without if not for the help of their neighbors.

This year’s sponsors include Wellington Regional Medical Center; Seacoast Bank; Diamante Farms; Medicare Maggie; Dr. & Mrs. Gordon Johnson; Mr. & Mrs. Jim Sackett; Michael Gauger; Frank & Herta Suess; Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith; Maria Antuña; Wellington The Magazine; and the Town-Crier newspaper.

Tickets are $100 per person, and table sponsorships are still available at $1,250 and include one table and eight tickets. For additional information, visit www.wellingtoncommunityfoundation.org.

The board of directors requests that if you are unable to attend this year and still want to make a difference, consider making a one-time donation, so the foundation can continue “building a stronger community.”


Enjoy A Symphony Of Sport And Spectacle At The 2024 Winter Equestrian Festival

Enjoy A Symphony Of Sport And Spectacle  At The 2024 Winter Equestrian Festival

By Alicia McLaughlin

Every winter, as much of the world dons coats and seeks the warmth of indoors, the lush, verdant grounds of Palm Beach County transform into a playground for equestrian athletes. But to label the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) as a mere sporting event would be an understatement. It’s an experience, an emotion, a gathering that beckons people from diverse backgrounds, all bound by their love for equestrian sports.

But there’s more than just the fierce competition. WEF 2024, from Jan. 3 to March 31, promises a season punctuated with glamour, excitement and unparalleled equestrian talent, all leading up to the marquee event, the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix on March 30. It’s an evening where the crème de la crème of equestrian sports showcases unmatched skills and precision.

WEF, with its 13 weeks of show jumping competition, illuminates the world of hunters, jumpers and equitation like no other. Athletes from more than 34 countries and all 50 states come galloping into Wellington. These riders, in their quest for glory, fiercely compete for a prize pool exceeding $13 million. With more than 34,000 horse entries submitted each year, the magnitude of the event is nothing short of breathtaking. But these numbers only tell half the story. Dive a bit deeper, and one discovers an event that is as much about community as it is about competition.

Beneath the shimmering lights of Wellington International, the world of equestrian sport converges with the heartbeat of altruism, as the Great Charity Challenge, sponsored by Fidelity Investments, prepares for its 15th year.

With a history of redistributing a staggering $19.4 million to 318 Palm Beach County nonprofit organizations, the GCC doesn’t just talk about change; it catalyzes it.

As the winter chill blankets the air, the Winter Equestrian Festival becomes a hotbed of hope, where show jumping champions and compassionate hearts unite to transform the lives of more than 40 charities annually. The electrifying night isn’t just about horsepower; it’s about the power to effect change, the power of community and the spirit of giving. As 2024 approaches, a clarion call echoes across Palm Beach County, urging individuals and businesses alike to #BeTheChange, to build upon the GCC’s legacy and to drive the event toward its $2 million goal.

“We owe the impact of the event to date to our many generous donors and sponsors,” Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin said. “We look forward to the community at large uniting once again at Wellington International and supporting so many worthwhile causes on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024.”

For those new to equestrian sports, WEF is a mesmerizing introduction. The leadline classes, for instance, often bring heartwarming scenes as young equestrians, some as young as a year old, take their initial steps into the world of horse riding. Guided by their trainers and cheered on by families, they showcase skills and confidence that belie their age.

Similarly, the weekly groom’s classes offer a unique, behind-the-scenes look into the unsung heroes of the equestrian world. Grooms are essential to the health and performance of competing horses, ensuring that these majestic creatures are in peak condition. Watching grooms showcase their craft, one gains a deeper appreciation for the many roles that come together to make competing at WEF a success.

The Battle of the Sexes, another highlight, introduces a delightful twist to traditional competitions. As male and female riders go head-to-head in a series of challenges, the atmosphere becomes electric, filled with friendly banter, strategic plays and spectacular showmanship. This event, besides offering unparalleled entertainment, also underscores the inclusive spirit of WEF, where talent reigns supreme, irrespective of gender.

Another crucial element adding depth to the festival’s narrative is its economic impact. While the numbers showcase the tangible benefits that WEF brings to Wellington and Palm Beach County, the intangible benefits are equally noteworthy.

Local businesses, from hotels and restaurants to boutique stores and service providers, experience a surge during the festival weeks. Entrepreneurs often curate WEF-special menus, offers and products, creating a symbiotic relationship between the festival and the local economy.

Wellington International’s range of hospitality suites is a testament to luxury, exclusivity and an unparalleled equestrian viewing experience. For those who prefer a more intimate setting, especially on Saturday nights at WEF, tickets to the Wellington International hospitality clubs are available. The Blue Ribbon Club is nestled between the International and Wellington clubs. It provides a bird’s eye view of the renowned International Arena. The club caters to varying group sizes with individual tables or full-suite reservations.

The Wellington Club is a versatile space for cocktail parties, corporate events and grand celebrations. Its décor is customizable, and its floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that guests never miss a beat of the equestrian competition. The festival’s social dimensions are equally compelling. The Nightclub at the Gallery, for example, isn’t just about music and dancing. It’s a place where friendships are forged, where competitors share a laugh, and where the young and the old sway to the same rhythm, celebrating the collective passion that brought them to WEF. For those who love the allure of the open air and want to stay close to the action, the Beachside is the perfect spot. Diners can savor a buffet, opt for bottle service and enjoy sideline views from an elevated position. With varying table sizes and plush couch seating, it offers a relaxed yet sophisticated setting.

At Wellington International, the retail and culinary scene is also vibrant and diverse. Boasting more than 90 vendors, attendees have wide choices in both shopping and dining experiences. On the retail front, one can discover luxury brands and artisans that elevate the shopping experience.

From the intricate designs of Helgstrand Jewellery to the sophisticated homeware at Gavi Home, every shop tells a unique story. Those with an appreciation for fine art can explore Clare Christie’s masterpieces or delve into the Calvert Collection, while Optic Nirvana caters to those seeking the perfect eyewear. Meanwhile, food aficionados can embark on a gastronomic journey with an array of international cuisines. The sheer variety ensures that every visit to Wellington International is a feast for the senses.

The Winter Equestrian Festival is a tapestry. Each thread, whether it’s the intense competition, the economic boost, the cultural exchanges or the sheer love for horses, intertwines to create a masterpiece. This isn’t just an event; it’s a tradition, an annual pilgrimage for many, and a testament to the timeless allure of equestrian sports.

For the latest Winter Equestrian Festival 2024 updates, sponsorship opportunities, hospitality club tickets, vendor information and much more, visit www.wellingtoninternational.com.


National Polo Center Offers A Pristine Setting For Polo And Much More

National Polo Center Offers A Pristine Setting For Polo And Much More

As the summer gives way to cooler temperatures, the equestrian world eagerly awaits the upcoming 2024 winter season in Wellington.

At the National Polo Center (NPC), fields and facilities have been upgraded in preparation for hosting American polo’s most prestigious tournaments and events.

The 161-acre property, acquired by the United States Polo Association (USPA) in June 2022, continues to undergo transformative changes, promising an exceptional experience for both polo enthusiasts and the public. Top-notch facilities include six regulation-sized polo fields, a grandstand, restaurant, café, clubhouse, swimming pool, gym and tennis courts, making it much more than just a hub for world-class equestrian competition.

Reflecting on the previous season, the USPA and NPC have initiated numerous improvements to elevate the club and provide visitors with a premium experience. As a result, NPC has restored Field Two to a grass field from the previous arena and plans to install an electronic scoreboard at the field’s south end.

Improvements extend to the facility’s entrance, stadium and parking areas, which have been refinished with a new subsurface, pavement and paint. All five fields are now on a scheduled maintenance program and receive extensive fertilizing, watering and aerating throughout the year.

As Palm Beach County’s largest equestrian center, NPC is keeping sustainability at the forefront of its mission and has adopted eco-friendly practices, such as water conservation and waste reduction, to preserve and protect Wellington’s natural beauty.

On the hospitality side, renovations include an expanded kitchen in the Mallet Grill, refreshed floors, refurbished bar areas and upgraded dining rooms. A new café by the tennis courts and new paint in the fitness center, spa and bathrooms provide a fresh feel for patrons. The pool, spa, fitness center and tennis courts will now be open year-round, offering more extensive benefits to members. The pool area near the Mallet Grill has been expanded to include a private dining space and cocktail lounge with 100 additional seats. The 7th Chukker, previously exclusive to members, is now open to the public six nights a week, broadening the club’s appeal and event hosting capabilities.

With a new stage set, NPC is gearing up to host an exhilarating series of tournaments and events. The 2024 season kicks off with the Continental Cup (Dec. 31 to Jan. 7), which promises an electric atmosphere for spectators and a unique New Year’s celebration. It will combine the festive spirit of the holiday season with the thrill of world-class polo. Spectators can expect a dynamic blend of sport and celebration as teams vie for the early-season title. The Continental Cup is also the start of the NPC 16-Goal Championship (formerly the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Super-Series) and serves as the season opener on U.S. Polo Assn. Field One.

The NPC 16-Goal Championship series consists of four qualifying tournaments — the Joe Barry Memorial (Jan. 11-28), the Ylvisaker Cup (Jan. 26 to Feb. 24), the Iglehart Cup and the Outback Cup — with each winning team advancing to the NPC 16-Goal Championship, set for April 10-14.

The U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship, now held throughout the month of February (Feb. 3-18), will be the featured Sunday match and showcase women’s high-goal polo on U.S. Polo Assn. Field One. Additionally, the debut of the National President’s Cup, at the NPC venue and under a new format, will unite some of the most talented 8-goal teams in the nation when it is held April 12-21.

The season’s most anticipated competition, the Gauntlet of Polo, runs from February to April and features top teams and players from around the world as they contest for the coveted C.V. Whitney Cup, USPA Gold Cup and U.S. Open Polo Championship trophies.

The Gauntlet of Polo challenges teams to win all three stages in a single season. Starting with the C.V. Whitney Cup, followed by the USPA Gold Cup and concluding with the U.S. Open Polo Championship, the Gauntlet promises intense competition and captivating narratives while merging polo tradition with intensity.

The C.V. Whitney Cup (Feb. 9-25) presents the initial test and separates serious contenders from the rest. The USPA Gold Cup (Feb. 23 to March 24) intensifies the competition further, with the possibility of a Gauntlet contender emerging if the C.V. Whitney Cup winner also secures victory. Serving as the pinnacle of North America’s high-goal season, the U.S. Open Polo Championship (March 22 to April 21) is the most coveted title in American polo and promises the winning team a prize money purse and an opportunity to engrave their names on the historic perpetual trophy.

NPC also offers a comprehensive entertainment experience that extends far beyond polo. Visitors can expect options that include everything from fine dining experiences to designer shopping at luxury boutiques. A full-service catering team regularly curates a five-star selection of cuisine for NPC’s brunch menu, a Sunday staple. The center now boasts more than 7,000 square feet of indoor event space, providing the perfect canvas for weddings, corporate retreats, sporting events, fundraising galas and private celebrations.

“We are going from about 25 or 30 events to more than 50 events in the Pavilion, including galas and weddings,” said Tim Gannon, chair of NPC Hospitality Operations Inc. “We’ve been working very hard to animate the polo center.”

The Polo Club at NPC offers a variety of membership opportunities, including social, junior and equestrian memberships, available from Dec. 1, 2023, through April 1, 2024. Club amenities include a 25 percent discount on box seats throughout the season and priority access to special events, such as NPC’s Chef’s Experience Dinner series, private wine dinners and poolside movie nights. Members can attend NPC’s speaker series, which has previously featured guest lecturers such as Olympic gold medalist Laura Kraut and 10-goaler Adolfo Cambiaso. Club members also receive exclusive access to the swimming pool, private tennis lessons, yoga and Pilates classes, and specialized spa services, such as massages and facials.

Even after completing renovations and site improvements, the team behind NPC’s recent developments has plenty more in store.

“We made a lot of progress in one year,” USPA President Charles Smith said. “We worked through the whole property to make it something that the USPA membership and the polo world would be proud to drive into. That has been a real focus and continues to be a focus.”

Where sport, community and tradition converge, the National Polo Center wants to ensure that the Wellington staple remains accessible to locals and stays at the forefront of the polo world, offering unparalleled experiences for players and fans alike.

To learn more about the 2024 schedule, ticketing options and VIP experiences, visit www.nationalpolocenter.com.


Bringing You The Best Of Wellington Since 2004