Category Archives: Feature Stories

Wellington The Magazine, LLC Featured Articles

At The GPL, It’s All About The Mission

At The GPL, It’s All About The Mission

By Jennifer Martinez

When Chip McKenney reflects on why he founded the Gay Polo League (GPL), memories of exclusion and isolation come rushing forward.

“I felt like I was the only gay athlete in the world,” said McKenney, the league’s founder and president. “There was pressure then, that still exists today, to keep quiet if someone is gay and athletic. I felt team sports were not a safe place for me, so I avoided them.”

Polo became the vehicle for McKenney to create belonging. As a former show jumper, he saw polo as a way to bring the LGBTQ+ community together for sport and fun. He launched GPL in Los Angeles in 2006 by inviting gay athletes and allies to a monthly tournament at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. Beyond the joyful camaraderie of the matches, he saw the greater impact that GPL was making.

“We have an opportunity to model athletes who are LGBTQ+ in a way that shows younger people that you can be a gay person, you can participate in a team sport, and you can do both authentically and openly,” McKenney said.

McKenney also sees the Gay Polo League’s broader role in uniting all on the field.

“We are a gay-identified organization. However, we are inclusive, not exclusive,” he said. “We believe there is power and great value in allies playing on our teams and supporting our events.”

He sees it all as part of the GPL’s mission, which is “to inspire and empower those individuals who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender via the promotion of and participation in the sport of polo.”

As the league grew, it wasn’t long before McKenney set his sights on Wellington, bringing the first International Gay Polo Tournament to the village in 2010. He saw the power of GPL just as that first tournament concluded.

As McKenney left the stage at the end of the trophy presentation, a security guard approached. He shared the story of his close cousin, a Vietnam veteran, who disappeared to San Francisco after the war. The guard never heard from his cousin again, learning later that he was gay and died of AIDS. He told McKenney, “Protecting you today was something I couldn’t do for him.”

In that moment, McKenney experienced the GPL’s mission coming to fruition.

“Awareness stimulates discussion, discussion generates understanding, and understanding is the foundation and cornerstone of inclusion and equity,” he said.

The league’s efforts to advance inclusivity grew when the tournament became a nonprofit charitable organization in 2016. Since then, the league has chosen an LGBTQ+ charity as the beneficiary of each Wellington tournament, creating awareness of the isolation and exclusion that has hurt gay people of every age.

The first year, the tournament donated funds to the Compass LGBTQ+ Community Center in Lake Worth to support its youth center and homeless youth outreach. The following two years, GPL chose SAGE, a national advocacy organization that looks out for LGBTQ+ elders who face financial hardship, challenges in finding care facilities that will accept them, and other, often unseen, barriers.

This year and last, GPL chose the onePULSE Foundation, established in the aftermath of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre, to honor the legacies of the 49 people killed. The four pillars of the charity’s mission are to create and support a memorial, a museum, educational programs and scholarships for students who share the same ambitions as the victims.

McKenney credits Barbara Poma, owner of the Pulse nightclub and founder of onePULSE, for inspiring an exponential increase in giving — from $20,000 in 2020 to $135,000 in 2022 — through sharing her moving story at GPL events.

“OnePULSE is helping us move the needle toward visibility and acceptance,” McKenney said. “It also gives us an opportunity to give back to the LGBTQ+ community.”

It’s a needle that McKenney will never stop moving. His vision is for the tournament is to become a “massively successful $1 million fundraising event.”

“It can be done,” he said with the conviction of a polo player who sees nothing but an open field ahead.

Learn more about the onePULSE Foundation, this year’s beneficiary, at


Sponsors Make The Magic Happen

Sponsors Make The Magic Happen
The International Gay Polo League Relies On Sponsor Support To Impact Change

By Jennifer Martinez

In a world of philanthropy and impactful work, sponsors are vital in supporting change. No organization recognizes this as well as the Gay Polo League, which annually hosts the Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament, presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, in Wellington. Sponsors have helped to grow the event in attendance size, notoriety and dollars raised to make an impact for the LGBTQ+ community.

In 2022, the organization, thanks in large part to the generosity of sponsors, was able to make its largest donation to date — $135,000 to the onePULSE Foundation. It was that day that the bar was set for 2023.

Stepping up once again as title sponsor is Lexus. Lexus’ passion for brave design, imaginative technology and exhilarating performance matches the work being done by the Gay Polo League, both on and off the field. The company, and the nonprofit, embrace the luxury lifestyle to create amazing experiences with a slate of international events happening throughout the year.

Returning as presenting sponsor is Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Douglas Elliman brings more than a century’s worth of insight, experience and knowledge to deliver unparalleled experiences for every real estate need. And whether you are looking in Wellington, or across the pond, there is a team ready to assist you.

A name synonymous for quality and achievement, Cherry Knoll Farm, will return as the VIP tent sponsor and as a team sponsor. Cherry Knoll Farm, led by Margaret Duprey, competes at the highest levels of competition both in North America and Europe. The three additional team sponsors for the 2023 event will be Greenberg Traurig, Woodford Reserve and McKenney Media. U.S. Polo Assn. will serve as the team jersey sponsor.

Grand sponsors include the Baptist Health Foundation, 3 Graces Dressage and Equity Performance Equine. J. Pacetti Precious Jewels is the jewelry sponsor, with RBC Wealth Management serving as sponsor of the VIP reception.

Additional sponsors for the upcoming event include: the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, Discover the Palm Beaches, Emerald Elite Senior Home Care, Churchill Downs, Nomad Sean Rush, Palm City Polo, Passport Magazine, Casablanca, Wellington The Magazine and the Village of Wellington.

The Village of Wellington’s sponsorship includes an exciting donation of signage around town to let residents and visitors know about the upcoming festivities.

“We are honored and excited to welcome our new and returning sponsors for the 2023 event,” said Chip McKenney, GPL’s founder and president. “Each and every sponsor is an ally and a partner in moving the needle forward for equality. We are very much looking forward to the event so we can join together to celebrate change!”

Learn more about the sponsors at


Everybody Is Welcome At The GPL

Everybody Is Welcome At The GPL The Stars Are Aligning For The Gay Polo League’s Tournament Set For April 6-9

By Jennifer Martinez

If you have ever attended the Lexus International Gay Polo Tournament, presented by Douglas Elliman Real Estate, you know it is equal parts celebration and serious competitive play. Both will be on full display when the tournament returns to the National Polo Center-Wellington on April 6-9.

Chip McKenney, founder and president of the Gay Polo League (GPL), and his team recognize all the facets that come together to give polo and the tournament its mystique and appeal.

“It’s a historic sport, it’s a traditional sport, it’s a sexy sport and it’s a global sport,” he said.

According to McKenney, it is also a welcoming sport. He credits polo for embracing the LGBTQ+ community and the tournament he first brought to Wellington in 2010, drawing player and ally celebrities from near and far.

Leading American polo player Nic Roldan participated in the tournament in its early years, immediately bringing star status to GPL. No. 1 world player Adolfo Cambiaso and his wife María Vázquez have cheered on the players.

Polo professionals Joey Casey and Hector Galindo, both Polo Hall of Fame inductees, have competed in numerous GPL tournaments. And Argentinian pro Nacho Figueras has attended and expressed his support for the league, as have numerous 10-goalers and other top professionals who have watched the matches.

They are more than spectators to McKenney. Their support as allies has enhanced the league’s credibility.

“If gay people say it’s important, that’s one thing,” McKenney said. “If an ally says it’s important, it seems to be louder, to hold more value.”

When McKenney thinks about the value that the players bring to the field — gay and non-gay — one word comes to mind: courage. “People who are comfortable enough in their own skin who are not gay and want to play in a gay polo league are powerful and brave,” he said. “It also takes bravery for someone who is LGBTQ+ to play as an openly gay athlete.”

This year’s tournament will feature a majority of LGBTQ+ players, including an entire team from France. Other players hail from Argentina, Germany, the Netherlands, Peru, Spain, California and New York. McKenney meets many of the players during GPL’s international events in Argentina, England and France. With members in 15 countries, the league is looking forward to fielding a GPL team to compete in the 10th Luxembourg Polo International Tournament this summer and will produce an International Gay Polo Tournament in London this September.

However, Wellington holds the title of GPL’s flagship tournament. The play on the field is as unique as the league itself. It will be the first time any of the players have come together as a team. None will play on their own horses, and they will have only one day of practice before competing. McKenney credits Joey Casey with sourcing the ponies, matching them to the skill levels of the players, and putting the four teams together for the tournament. Four polo pros will also donate their time to make the tournament the best it can be.

“People are incredibly generous with their time and knowledge,” McKenney said.

GPL has opened the door for a diverse collection of people to come together. Players and allies from all over the world descend upon Wellington each year from all circles, including gay and non-gay, celebrity players and novices, international polo aficionados and local entertainment-seekers, all looking for a highly engaging multi-day event where everyone is welcome.

“We celebrate the best of our community by encouraging creativity, energy and positivity for everybody, whether they are playing on our teams, or spectating and building incredible tailgates,” McKenney said.

And the tailgates are incredible. They are a visual component of what is unique and joyful about the GPL. Field-side tent décor has ranged from Alice in Wonderland to Brunch at Tiffany’s, with prizes awarded for best theme and best food.

The tournament’s Polotini Wigstock kickoff party the Friday night before the tournament, billed as a “hair-raising extravaganza,” has also developed a following. As the event has grown, so have the wigs, becoming more elaborate and colorful every year. “When somebody puts on a wig, they’re already starting the party,” McKenney said. “They arrive ready to rock and roll. It’s great fun.”

The joy of the evening has poured over into generosity from those who attend. Last year, Wigstock raised $135,000 for charity partner the onePULSE Foundation, the cause that has been selected again for 2023.

No matter what part of the five-day tournament someone attends, no matter how many years in a row they’ve participated, McKenney guarantees that it will be better than the last. He credits his production team with challenging themselves to reinvent the experience every year.

“I want people who come year after year to leave thinking that it was unlike any event they’ve ever been to — including ours,” he said. “Our goal isn’t to be the biggest. It’s to be the best.”

Learn more about the Gay Polo League at


New Logo, Same Mission

New Logo, Same Mission Rebranding Symbolizes The Union Of The Central Palm Beach County Chamber And The Hispanic
Chamber Of Commerce Of Palm Beach County


The Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County recently held a launch party at the Wellington International showgrounds to celebrate the unveiling of new logos and branding for the jointly run organizations.

The new logo outlines a white palm tree in blue, green and gold colors. Mary Lou Bedford, CEO of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber, said that the goal of the rebranding is to solidify the message of the union between the two previously separate organizations as one.

“In the summer of 2020, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce expressed interest to join with our organization as its area encompassed a large portion of the Hispanic businesses, and our missions were aligned,” Bedford explained. “During the pandemic, we saw a trend across the nation’s chamber organizations, partnering to give a stronger, more collective voice to the business community.”

The Central Chamber’s board of directors voted to move forward with the Hispanic Chamber as part of a unified organization.

“However, after almost a year and a half of the partnership, the message still wasn’t clear that we are one organization with two entities within it,” Bedford said. “If you are a member of one, you are a member of both. It’s important for our members to realize that the Central Chamber remains focused on economic sustainability, development and advocacy for our businesses, but now we had an additional opportunity with the Hispanic Chamber as part of the organization to serve a larger demographic of businesses countywide. It gives members of both chambers a broader networking pool.”

In 2022, at the suggestion of current board chair Pam Tahan, CEO of Wellington Regional Medical Center, they put together a focus group of members from both organizations.

“During the focus group sessions, it was determined that a rebranding of the chambers would be effective with our new strategy as an organization,” Bedford said.

Maria S. Antuña has been the CEO of the Hispanic Chamber for eight years and continues in that role, in charge of business development/Hispanic affairs for the unified chamber group.

“The decision to join the two chambers brings combined efforts in the areas of economic impact, marketing opportunities, workforce development strategies and a stronger combined effort in the advocacy area,” said Antuña, noting that the Hispanic Chamber has been around since 1996. “The Hispanic Chamber and Central Palm Beach County Chamber overlapped in pockets of the county. With the Hispanic Chamber covering all of Palm Beach County, it made sense to join forces, and both chambers benefit from creating a solid, strong partnership.”

She believes that the rebranding effort will create clarity and a strong perception of a unified organization. The new logo better represents the joining of the two chambers, Antuña said.

Krissy Robbs, marketing manager for both chambers, was involved in planning the Rebranding Launch Party held in February at the Wellington International showgrounds.

“The Village of Wellington partnered with the chambers for this event,” Robbs said. “The main objective for having the Rebranding Launch Party at Wellington International during the Great Charity Challenge was to increase awareness of the partnership of the two chambers.”

Chamber Vice Chair Michael Stone, president of Wellington International, led the invitation-only event and revealed the new logo to the board of directors, members and guests.

“Guests mingled and watched the equestrian activities while enjoying dinner,” Robbs said. “The Village of Wellington’s council members and Mayor Anne Gerwig made a proclamation at the event honoring the equestrian season. Guests were gifted favor bags as a token of appreciation from the chambers. ProForma Turnkey Marketing donated the bags and the items inside. Inside the bags were bamboo water bottles, a notepad and pen, and hand sanitizer — all with the new branding of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Palm Beach County.”

Stone was excited about how the rebranding has been received. “The rebranding was essential to show how the Hispanic Chamber and the Central Chamber are clearly working together to help businesses both large and small in Palm Beach County,” he said.

“We saw the event as a great opportunity to showcase how our organizations work together, as well as a celebration to thank Mary Lou and Maria for their all they do for our organizations,” Tahan added.

Bedford noted that the unified chamber, which operates out of an office in Wellington, represents not only a huge coverage area, but also a large slice of local history.

“The Central Palm Beach County Chamber, formerly known as the Palms West Chamber, is celebrating 40 years this year,” she said. “We became the Central Palm Beach County Chamber in 2012, after a merger with the Lake Worth Chamber, expanding our footprint to one-third of the county. The Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce had been in existence for more than 100 years at that time, so there’s a lot of history in this organization.”

Bedford believes that the recent rebranding will help unify the local business community. “It will bring a more unified business community, that has a strong, diversified representation of business leaders and organizations in all industries,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to support initiatives that impact a larger demographic of the business community. Our organization will continue to be a voice for advocacy in all areas of industry, throughout Palm Beach County, to ensure a healthy business climate for all.”

Antuña believes that the future is strong for the Hispanic Chamber.

“With the help of our newly formed diversified Hispanic Advisory Council, the Hispanic Chamber will continue providing a platform for the Hispanic community, serve as a voice for the Hispanic community, and provide opportunities for businesses to contribute to the economic growth in Palm Beach County,” she said. “Both the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Central Palm Beach County Chamber are proud in serving all of the county, contributing to the economic growth of the area while representing and supporting diversity and inclusion.”

For more information about the two chambers, visit and



Helping Horses In Need

Helping Horses In Need
Storeybrook Farm Sanctuary Advocates For America’s Forgotten Horses

By Sydney Jones

You don’t have to be a large-scale operation to make a difference, you just have to be passionate enough to facilitate change. Olivia Alcorta, founder and owner of Storeybrook Farm Sanctuary Inc., works to do just that every day.

The nonprofit horse rescue is dedicated to protecting horses in need by providing sanctuary and driving awareness to end the export and inhumane slaughter of American horses. By focusing on three main initiatives — rescue, advocacy and rehabilitation — the small, nine-stall farm has saved more than 275 horses in just over two years and has no plans of slowing down.

Nestled on an 18-acre plot that was purchased by Alcorta and her husband, Storeybrook Farm Sanctuary opened in early 2021 to save lives and promote equine welfare. The organization actively rescues horses from inhumane situations all across the United States, providing them with a safe place to live in peace.

They also use their voice to help horses, spreading knowledge and support for animals that have been mistreated. Most importantly, the organization aids in the animals’ recovery efforts, no matter what the outcome looks like. Returning to competition is oftentimes the utmost priority for injured or neglected horses, but for Storeybrook Farm Sanctuary, a happy and healthy animal is always the end goal.

During her personal riding career, Alcorta frequented the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. Year after year, she would make the trip south to compete in different amateur jumper divisions throughout the circuit. Her competitive career ultimately fostered a love for horses that became the driving force behind Storeybrook Farm Sanctuary.

Not every horse is meant to be a show jumper, but every horse is meant to be treated with the love and care they deserve.

“I rescued our first horse, Abe, from a kill pen in July 2020. Everyone told me I was crazy and that all the horses in those pens were in there for a reason and were dangerous. I was terrified for Abe to arrive, but the moment he got off the trailer, he buried his head into my body and has wanted to be there ever since. He is gentleness personified and one of the most special horses I’ve ever known,” Alcorta said. “After saving and getting to know him, I knew I had to help more horses like Abe. From there, a mission was born and is fueled every day by his presence and all the other souls we’ve been fortunate enough to save.”

Taking care of neglected and abused horses isn’t a one-woman show. Alcorta relies on a dedicated group of individuals to help bring her vision to life. The daily undertaking they have to shoulder to give these animals the life they deserve is extensive, and the nonprofit appreciates any and all volunteers.

“Our day starts with giving all of the horses their breakfast. We do a mixture of triple crown grain, shredded beetroot, horse guard supplements and whatever individual medicine they require,” Alcorta said. “The horses are then moved to their respective paddocks, and we start with morning chores. As the morning wraps up, we will tend to any medical needs that the horses require, as we typically always have a medically intensive case here at the sanctuary. We will then do some training with the orphan foals or ride the horses. We usually take a midday rest before it is time for evening chores, and I will do a night check as well.”

However, the conversation doesn’t end with Storeybrook Farm Sanctuary. As a sanctuary with limited space, there is always something more that the horse world can be doing to support these animals.

“I think the best way to advocate for abused and neglected horses is to shed as much light on the issue as possible,” Alcorta said. “Share on social media pages, talk about it with people who may not be aware, and generally just get this issue in front of as many eyes as possible. Ignorance is bliss, but change happens when we bring this darkness into the light.”

What started as a scary idea for Alcorta has developed into an operation that is more than she could’ve ever dreamed of. For future endeavors, she hopes to acquire more land to be able to save and care for more of America’s forgotten horses.

“I think every horse that comes here is a success story for us,” she said. “Each horse that our mission gets to touch and change is a major victory. Every day that we are still operating and giving them the care and life they deserve is the ultimate success for me.

Learn more about Storeybrook Farm at


Seen Through Horses

Seen Through Horses Horses For Mental Health’s 2023 Campaign Will Coincide With Mental Health Awareness Month In May

By Jillian Eberlein and Sydney Jones

Horses have been an essential part of human life for thousands of years and continue to be beneficial beyond the show rings. In recent years, horses have proven to be an integral part in making a difference for individuals facing mental health challenges.

Due to their size and presence, horses provide an engaging and emotionally safe way to understand ourselves and make healthy changes with the support of treatment professionals. As prey animals, horses are highly sensitive to nonverbal messages and intentions, which can provide valuable feedback that leads to healing. The relationship between humans and horses provides a safe, dynamic environment where peace and healing coexist.

Horses for Mental Health, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 2021 to increase awareness, public engagement, funds and access to programs incorporating horses for mental health and personal growth. Through these objectives, the goal of the organization is to uplift nonprofit programs that provide these services through funding support and by spreading awareness globally that incorporating horses for mental health treatment and personal development is an accessible and effective option.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five people will be affected by mental illness in their life, and depression is the No. 1 cause of disability worldwide, however only 46 percent of adults receive treatment.

Horses for Mental Health is led by Lynn Thomas, co-founder and president, who has been a leading force for change in the conversation surrounding mental health through several ventures, including Eagala and Arenas for Change, where she has served as co-founder and CEO.

Thomas is a licensed clinical social worker and received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah in 1995. She first developed a program integrating horses as a primary treatment component while serving as executive director of a residential boarding school for troubled adolescents. From Thomas’s experience, passion and knowledge regarding how horses impact the well-being of humans, Horses for Mental Health was born.

The 2023 Seen Through Horses Campaign is a peer-to-peer campaign that partners with nonprofit organizations, philanthropists, celebrities, influencers and companies to improve access to programs that incorporate horses for mental health and personal growth. The campaign will run from May 1 through May 31 to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month. On the heels of a successful 2022 campaign, this year’s event collaborates with 12 leading organizations in the sector and benefits more than 65 nonprofit charity partners. The campaign is made possible by Zoetis, Horses for Mental Health, Arenas for Change and Equine Network.

In 2022, Seen Through Horses achieved impressive results — $60,991 was raised in donations by 46 nonprofits; more than 12,168,990 people were reached through social media, print ads, media releases, video views, e-mails and podcasts; there were 661,000 video views across four videos sharing stories of transformation through horses; and six celebrities along with 15 influencers engaged in promotional content.

“With the lessons learned in the first campaign, and the proof of what can be achieved to share with other supporters, we are excited to continue the momentum as an annual campaign,” Thomas said. “Historically, these types of campaigns take about three years to really gain traction, so the vision for this campaign is to continue expanding both in program involvement, sponsor and celebrity support, and raising funds for services.”

Mental health does not discriminate. To learn more, or get involved with the campaign, reach out to Horses for Mental Health at or visit


Investing In Your  Health

Investing In Your  Health Wellington Has Programs To Support The Physical And Mental Health Of Residents And Staff

By Jim Barnes, Wellington Village Manager

One of Wellington’s hallmarks is our exceptional quality of life. We are a safe, resilient and inclusive community with an outstanding environment for all to thrive — physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. Health and wellness are essential aspects of our community’s overall vibrancy and are among our top priorities.

Promoting Health & Well-Being
Our residents share these values. In a survey conducted as part of our parks and recreation planning process, respondents said that promoting health and well-being should be a high priority for the village. Your Wellington Village Council is committed to continuing to invest in these areas to ensure that everyone who lives and works in Wellington has the opportunity to thrive, now and in the future.

Bell Seal For Workplace Mental Health
As evidence of our commitment to health and wellness, the Village of Wellington was recently awarded a platinum-level certification by Mental Health America. The Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health is a national certification program that recognizes employers committed to creating mentally healthy workplaces. This was the second time that the village achieved the platinum level, which is the highest honor.

Workplace Health Achievement
Additionally, Wellington has been recognized by the American Heart Association with a bronze level Workplace Health Achievement. This award recognizes employers who demonstrate a commitment to employee wellness through comprehensive worksite health promotion and programs by utilizing a workforce well-being scorecard designed to help employers evaluate the culture of health and well-being within their workforces. The program also identifies gaps and determines how our progress stacks up to peer organizations. In addition to providing wellness programs for our workplace, we also offer a vast array of fitness activities through our Parks & Recreation Department.

Bike-Friendly Community
As another indicator of our commitment, we have initiated the installation of high-visibility green pavement in bicycle lanes to increase visibility of bicycle lanes, identify areas of potential conflict and promote a clearer understanding of the lanes’ purpose. This improvement recognizes our commitment to improving bicycling conditions through investments in infrastructure and pro-bike policies. Wellington has partnered with schools and various civic groups to ensure that we have a safe, bike-friendly community that offers accessibility and recreation for all. With those partnerships and more than 45 miles of bike lanes, 208 miles of sidewalks and 40 miles of multipurpose pathways, Wellington makes it clear that connectivity is a community priority.

Healthcare Providers
Healthcare is also an important amenity for residents and a vital component of our business community, with Wellington Regional Medical Center continuing to provide expert care in our community, the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Health Specialty Center offering comprehensive and convenient children’s medical services, Baptist Health South Florida offering specialized services in multiple locations and Cleveland Clinic offering services in several medical specialties locally. These four healthcare providers join dozens of other healthcare-related businesses making Wellington an elite hub for the medical sector.

Mental Health Support
We also know that mental health is an important facet of our community’s overall wellness, and we work with experts to engage community members so we can connect people with the right resources. Through partnerships with local hospitals, schools and our growing medical community, Wellington provides a multitude of options to support the mental and behavioral well-being of all. We are proud to work with local partners to end the stigma around mental health, and we continue to provide outlets for those in need.

Parks & Recreation Master Plan
While Wellington has much to be proud of in terms of health and wellness, we are always looking to innovate and improve. Among our many efforts to keep moving forward, we recently updated our Parks & Recreation Master Plan. This included analyzing our existing park system and providing recommendations for new amenities. It builds off the existing facilities plans developed since Wellington’s incorporation and will set the framework for planning, maintenance, development and rehabilitation of our parks, open spaces, recreation facilities and programming for a 10-year horizon. We will continue to partner with our local medical community as well, in order to assess and address our community health needs.
As 2023 hits its stride, I hope you are, too. Whether you’re walking, jogging or biking on our extensive shared use paths, enjoying a swim at the Wellington Aquatics Complex, or finding respite in our 12 community parks and memorials, 24 neighborhood parks, or three preserves and sanctuaries, please know that your village is invested in your well-being and dedicated to making Wellington an even happier, healthier place to call home.


Keep South Florida Pests Under Control

Keep South Florida Pests Under Control Locally Based Armand Platinum Pest Control Services Brings Decades Of Experience To Residents And Businesses

Story by Mike May  |  Photos by Abner Pedraza

Veteran pest control specialists Scott Armand and Jim Bartley at Armand Platinum Pest Control Services have the experience, expertise and know how to protect your home and business. They have many years of experience providing pest control services across all necessary locations, including your lawn, flower beds, garage and more.

In early January, Armand and his wife Mair, along with Bartley and his wife Shilla, merged their two pest control firms to create a new company, Armand Platinum Pest Control Services, which is based in the western communities.

With a new company name and logo, Armand and Bartley may have a new corporate image, but their professional skills remain tried, tested and, most importantly, trusted.

“We are owner-operated, we have every license possible in the pest control industry, and our staff has more than 100 years of combined experience in this business,” said Armand, who has been working in the pest control industry in Palm Beach County since 1983.

Armand Platinum Pest Control Services serves clients here in the western communities and beyond.

“The new company will cover all of South Florida, providing all facets of pest, lawn and termite control to both residential and commercial properties with the same reliable, guaranteed and professional services that South Florida has come to expect from Scott and I,” said Bartley, whose professional career as a pest control specialist started in Palm Beach County in 1985.

Armand and Bartley have seen it all when it comes to South Florida pests.

“In Florida, it’s always a season for some type of pest,” Bartley said. “There are so many things in the pest control business that you have to know so much about. Frankly, I’m a bug nerd, and bugs fascinate me.”

If you have an issue with palmetto bugs, cockroaches, spiders, silver fish, termites, ants, rats, mice, fleas, bees, ticks, and even wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels and porcupines, Armand Platinum Pest Control Services will come to your rescue.

“We are a boutique pest control firm that provides specific services that best meet the needs of our clients,” Armand said. “Our pest control products are applied pinpoint and not broadcast.”

They aim to solve the problem without harming your landscape.

“We do pay special attention to lawns, ornamental plants and trees,” Bartley said.

While any business can proclaim to have the finest products and services, Armand and Bartley are both proud of their customer service record, which has generated many strong testimonials.

“Scott brings professionalism to this industry and customer service at the highest level,” Lisa Marder said.

“Armand Platinum Pest Control Services is second-to-none,” added attorney Mickey Smith of Lesser, Lesser, Landy and Smith. “The entire team is knowledgeable, professional and extremely responsive. I am very particular when it comes to my home, and that is why I would trust no one else to protect it. Armand Platinum also services our law firm’s offices. We could not be happier with the service we receive.”

“I’m confident those who hire Scott and his team will conclude that the quality of work he provides is absolutely second to no other,” Dennis Ewing said.

In addition to running the business, Armand and Bartley also find time to mix and mingle with other local business leaders. Armand is the president-elect of the Wellington Rotary Club and is a member of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, while Bartley is the current president of the Certified Pest Control Operators of Florida. Meanwhile, Armand’s wife Mair leads the Women of the Western Communities, while Bartley’s wife Shilla will also represent the company from time to time.

Right now, the client base for Armand Platinum Pest Control Services is in the vicinity of 200 customers. While the majority of its clients are based in the western communities, they are regularly sending crews as far north as Stuart in Martin County and to parts of northern Broward County to deliver pest control services.

While Armand Platinum Pest Control Services is staffed by a veteran crew of experienced pest control specialists, the company is technologically trendy and is in touch with its clients and prospective clients through multiple social media channels.

“We have a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter,” Armand said. “Our web site, found at, is also worth reviewing.”

The team at Armand Platinum Pest Control Services is excited to further serve South Florida residents and businesses delivering quality, personalized pest control services.

To learn more, contact Scott Armand at or (561) 789-8777, or Jim Bartley at or (561) 440-4567. Learn more at


World’s Finest Dressage On Display

World’s Finest Dressage On Display 2023 Adequan Global Dressage Festival Showcases 10 Weeks Of Exciting Competition

The 12th annual Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) started off its 12-week competition circuit in Wellington on Jan. 11 and runs until March 31. With two weeks off during the first four weeks, the show runs consecutively for the last eight weeks.

During these weeks, some of the top Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) dressage riders from around the world will ride in the AGDF International Ring to compete and qualify for numerous championships, including the World Cup, Festival of Champions and the North American Youth Championships. Spectators are welcome to watch their favorite riders compete from Thursday through Sunday each CDI week.

AGDF Director of Sport Thomas Baur invites everyone out to the dressage festival showgrounds at Equestrian Village to enjoy all the beautiful horses and great performances.

The high point of each week is the Friday Night Stars event featuring Grand Prix freestyles from some of the top riders around the world.

“Our highlight of the week is always the Friday Night Stars with the musical freestyles,” Baur said. “That is always something very entertaining, and we have a lot of spectators there. That, for me, is the most recommended part of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.”

In addition to the freestyles on Friday evenings, the two most prestigious events are the Nations Cup taking place during Week 7 and the CDI5* during Week 10 hosted at Wellington International. Some of the countries that will be represented during the circuit aside from the United States will be Germany, France, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Sweden, Mexico, Thailand, Venezuela, Singapore, Turkey, Belgium, Chile and Switzerland.

Baur is very excited to see the flags of so many different countries on display at the AGDF, representing the many foreign dressage riders who have made the trip to spend the winter here in Wellington.

“At the Nation’s Cup week, we have seven countries being represented, and that is really something very special to have that many teams from different countries all across the world — from Europe, South America and North America,” Baur said.

The $15,000 Lövsta Future Challenge/Young Horse Grand Prix series for horses eight to 10 years of age and the $10,000 Future Challenge/Young Horse Prix St. Georges series for horses ages seven to nine years old will be held over the season as well. Riders have five weeks of qualifying chances at the AGDF during weeks 3, 5, 7, 8, and 10. The top two horses from each week will be qualified for the final to be held during AGDF Week 11. This event gives riders and trainers the chance to showcase their talented young horses in the International Ring in an exciting and electric environment without the pressure of international competition.

The most popular night of the season will be during Week 10 when dressage takes over Wellington International. The iconic International Ring will host the CDI5*, preparing the riders for a summer spent in Europe in intensely competitive environments.

“In Week 10, which is the dressage five-star week, we will have the Friday Night Stars across the street at the big jumping stadium,” Baur said. “It’s mainly for the top horses to see something else, not always at the same showgrounds, and it will also allow us to accommodate more spectators for the five-star night.”

This season is extra special because spectators are once again able to see Olympic riders such as Adrienne Lyle. Lyle is highly decorated and won the Olympic team bronze medal with her teammates Sabine Schut-Kery and Steffen Peters. She will compete with Betsy Juliano’s stallion Salvino and show in many Friday Night Stars events to prepare for the FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha.

Two weeks of the season, Week 3 and Week 9, will also feature para-dressage. Para-dressage is the only equestrian sport in the Paralympics, and riders compete in one of five different grades based on the rider’s ability and what movements are allowed in each test. Grade I is a walk-only test, while Grades II and III are walk and trot. Grades IV and V are walk, trot and canter. The riders will compete in these three-day events with a freestyle on the final day. The para-dressage events will include one of the most decorated para riders, Roxanne Trunnell, who won an individual gold medal in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

For more information about the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, visit


Faces of Dressage 2023

Faces of Dressage 2023

The majestic sport of dressage has returned to Wellington, home of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, for another amazing season. Often compared to horse ballet, or dancing with horses, dressage showcases the grace, beauty and elegance of a horse and rider pair working together as one. From elite international dressage to more introductory levels to the uplifting sport of para-dressage, all levels of the sport are on display here in Wellington this winter. While the riders and their mounts make it look effortless in the ring, dressage performances are often the end result of years of hard work. If you are not familiar with this graceful sport, be sure to check it out. For those new to dressage, one way to learn more is to visit one of the Friday Night Stars events to enjoy the lyrical musical freestyle classes. Once again, we celebrate this amazing determination and hard work in Faces of Dressage 2023, highlighting just a few of the incredible riders you can see in action this winter at the AGDF.

Morgan Barbançon is not only fluent in French, English, Spanish, Catalan, Dutch and German, but she’s an Olympic dressage rider. In 2012, at the summer Olympics in London, she placed seventh as a team and 23rd in the individual competition. In 2015, at the FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, Barbançon finished eighth. In January, Barbançon and Habana Libre won the Global Dressage Festival CDI4* Grand Prix in Wellington. Up until 2018, Barbançon competed internationally for Spain. She now competes for France.

Anna Buffini represents the United States in dressage, and talent runs in her family. Her mother, Beverly Robinson, played volleyball at the collegiate level. She was selected as an alternate for the U.S. team that played at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Buffini earned several top dressage results early in the 2021 season with her Hanoverian mare FRH Davinia La Douce, placing third in the FEI Grand Prix and FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.

Patricia Ferrando is a Venezuelan dressage rider. She competed at the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima, where she finished 12th in the finals, and at the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto. One of the most successful dressage riders from Venezuela, Ferrando trains with Yvonne Losos de Muñiz. She aims to represent Venezuela at the Olympic Games.

Beatrice de Lavalette represents the United States in para-dressage and was a member of the U.S. Para-Dressage Team for the Tokyo Paralympic Games with her horse Clarc. De Lavalette lost both of her lower legs in the 2016 terrorist bombing at the Brussels airport. She started riding again five months after the attack. She has an impressive résumé and has had tremendous success. Beatrice and Sixth Sense have won several CPEDI3* events in Wellington already this year.

Rebecca Hart is a para-equestrian originally from Pittsburgh. Hart was born with a rare genetic disorder, Familial Spastic Paraplegia. Her life with horses has been extraordinary, as she is a three-time Paralympian: in 2008, 2012 and 2016. She went to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and placed 9th individually. Beyond the Paralympics, Hart has racked up a long list of accomplishments in the sport of para-dressage. She will be back in the show ring at the para-dressage events in Wellington this season.

German dressage rider Christoph Koschel approaches his sport with the following philosophy: “Recognize the feel and diversity of each and every horse. See the positives and be able to adjust.” He competed at the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2011 European Dressage Championships, where he won a medal in the team competition. Last year, he rode American-owned Dunensee to win the CDI4* Grand Prix in Wellington. He is back in Wellington this year and will be an exciting competitor to watch.

Roxanne Trunnell represents the United States in para-dressage. She contracted a virus in 2009 that caused swelling in her brain, putting her in a coma and resulted in her requiring a wheelchair. Since then, she has accomplished a great deal in her riding career. She won three medals at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, including a gold medal in the Individual Championship Test Grade I and Individual Freestyle Test Grade I events, and a bronze medal in the team open event.

Adrienne Lyle has a lengthy list of accomplishments as a top dressage rider and coach. She represented Team USA at the Olympic Games in London and Tokyo and brought home a team silver medal with her longtime partner Salvino. Lyle is currently ranked 11th in the world. Most recently, Lyle and Salvino won the FEI World Cup Grand Prix at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in January.

The ever-impressive Tinne Vilhelmson-Silvén represents Sweden and has competed at seven Olympic Games. She placed fourth in team dressage in 1992 and in team dressage in Beijing in 2008. She also placed eighth at the 2016 Olympics. A regular at the AGDF, Vilhelmson-Silvén won the Global Dressage Festival Friday Night Stars aboard Devanto last year. It’s safe to say the crowd will be excited to see what she brings to the arenas this year in Wellington.