Category Archives: Feature Stories

Wellington The Magazine, LLC Featured Articles

Combining Horses And Hospitality

Combining Horses And Hospitality 
Wellington Is A Perfect Fit For Businesswomen And Equestrian Michelle Durpetti

By Emily Randolph

It is a rare occurrence to catch Michelle Durpetti without her hands full.

One moment, Durpetti’s fingers are curled around her horses’ reins; the next, they are gripping a clipboard as she juggles her duties as an event planner. On another day, her hands could be balancing a plate of food as she works as the managing partner of her family’s Gene & Georgetti restaurant in Chicago, or they could be gripping a broom as she sweeps the aisle at her own Andiamo Farm here in Wellington.

For as occupied as Durpetti’s hands may be in her many roles, she has found life in Wellington to be equally as full: full of dreams, opportunities and, of course, horses.

While Durpetti hails from Chicago, she made her first visit to Wellington more than 20 years ago and immediately fell in love with the community and what it represented to her as a young equestrian.

“I began competing down here when I was 19, and my very first handy class in the amateur owner hunters happened here! It was on the grass, too, which is such a great memory,” said Durpetti, who continues to compete as an amateur in both the hunters and the jumpers. “It was so special to come down to Florida to compete back then as, up until a short while before that, many of us in the Midwest would compete at indoor facilities throughout the winter. So, the idea of coming down to a place like this and then being able to see some of the biggest names in the community right in front of you riding was so special.”

Throughout the decades that followed, Durpetti made frequent trips to Wellington and South Florida to compete and to enjoy many life moments — including getting married at the Breakers Palm Beach in 2018.

“What I think I loved the most about [my wedding day] — aside from marrying my wonderful husband, Collin, who is so supportive of the equestrian elements in our lives — was that I was able to drive to Wellington and feed my horses breakfast that morning before getting ready. That is a moment I will never forget. To have them with me on such an important day was truly so special,” Durpetti said.

Despite Durpetti’s fondness for the area and the many treasured memories made in Wellington, she never called Wellington a permanent home. That was until a great opportunity presented itself in 2022, an opportunity that had Durpetti saying, “Andiamo!” or “Let’s go!”

“As a child, my Italian grandfather, Gene Michelotti, was always telling us, ‘Andiamo! Andiamo!’ It means ‘let’s go’ when you translate it, or ‘we go.’ After a while, we sort of just adopted it as a mindset for our family,” said Durpetti, whose family is of Italian descent, specifically from Lucca, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany.

Roughly 25 years ago, in honor of Durpetti’s grandfather and the family’s catch phrase, Durpetti’s father acquired a new, beloved boat and named it the “Andiamo.”

“Ultimately, due to some health issues of [my father’s], we had to sell [the boat] a few years ago,” Durpetti explained. “It was such a heartbreaking time for our family, as we had so many memories on that boat. However, adopting that same mentality of ‘let’s go’ or let’s move forward, as a family we did just that.”

This led to Durpetti’s farm in Wellington. “About a year or two later, our wonderful home in Wellington found us, and I just knew immediately that it would be the next iteration of ‘let’s go’ for our family,” she said.

With the acquisition of peaceful farm property in Wellington’s Paddock Park neighborhood, Andiamo Farm was born.

“We gave the name to the farm as well to both honor the beloved boat that was so wonderful to us, and this idea that together, we move forward and accomplish great things and get through painful things,” Durpetti said. “So, it’s very symbolic for me and immensely personal, too.”

Today, Andiamo Farm is the quiet oasis where Durpetti is fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning and operating her own property — both for her own horses as well as boarders. But that is not the only dream Durpetti is pursuing in Florida.

The Village of Wellington not only provides a hub for equestrians, but it is also a hotspot for hospitality, Durpetti’s other love and area of expertise.

“I am so thrilled to have my event planning and wedding production company now based down here in South Florida,” said Durpetti, who operates Michelle Durpetti Events, an industry leader in wedding planning.

Durpetti has great aspirations for her event-planning company in South Florida, and she also hopes to one day — in the not-too-distant future — bring a taste of her family’s legendary Chicago steakhouse, Gene & Georgetti, to South Florida as well.

“We have been working on bringing our family restaurant down to South Florida for the past couple of years, and that is something I am so excited about,” Durpetti said. “I am also thrilled to be working with a wonderful couple this May on their beautiful Palm Beach wedding, and my bride happens to be an equestrian. That always just makes my heart so happy when two of my most favorite worlds come together!”

Durpetti is excited to think about what the future holds in store.

“I think that is what I am hoping for here in Wellington — to continue to flourish with my horses, to continue to grow my planning company and plan amazing celebrations down here for equestrians and non-equestrians alike,” she said.

For more information about Andiamo Farm, visit Visit to learn more about Michelle Durpetti Events.


Gauntlet Of Polo Teams Announced

Gauntlet Of Polo Teams Announced 
The Three-Part Series Opens Feb. 9 With The C.V. Whitney Cup

The United States Polo Association and the National Polo Center recently announced that nine teams will compete in the 2024 Gauntlet of Polo series in Wellington.

The prestigious Gauntlet of Polo returns for its sixth year, drawing the world’s greatest polo talent to vie for the three most sought-after American titles: the C.V. Whitney Cup, the USPA Gold Cup and the U.S. Open Polo Championship.

Similar to last year, teams can also enter any of the three tournaments individually. One team will take advantage of this opportunity, competing exclusively in the USPA Gold Cup and the U.S. Open Polo Championship. While teams can enter individual tournaments within the series, they cannot win the entire Gauntlet of Polo if they choose to do so.

This year’s competition features many returning players and teams, including defending U.S. Open champions, Park Place. Five-time C.V. Whitney Cup winners Valiente will also be returning. 2023 USPA Gold Cup winners Scone will return to compete under a new team name, La Dolfina. Pilot, the only team to ever capture the entire Gauntlet series, will attempt to soar back to the top of the podium for the first time since 2022.

Former USPA Chair Chip Campbell returns to the competition under a new team name, Clearwater. Campbell has not competed in the Gauntlet since 2021, when he played for Cessna. Coca-Cola’s Gillian Johnston, the only woman set to compete in the series, is hoping to achieve Gauntlet success having previously won the U.S. Open Polo Championship in 2002. La Fe and Dutta Corp boast a unique advantage, with both teams competing with identical 2023 rosters.

Additionally, four 10-goalers — Hilario Ulloa, Facundo Pieres, Poroto Cambiaso and Adolfo Cambiaso — will compete, representing the highest level of the sport. Pieres is fresh off his win in the 2023 Argentine Open with La Natividad, where he competed against the father/son Cambiaso duo, who represented La Dolfina Saudi.

Poroto Cambiaso will compete in his fourth Gauntlet of Polo season. As in 2023, Poroto will play for La Dolfina, while his legendary father, Adolfo, will compete for Valiente.

Teams competing in the full Gauntlet of Polo are: Coca-Cola with Gillian Johnston, Kristos “Keko” Magrini, Pablo “Polito” Pieres and Julian de Lusarreta; Pilot with Curtis Pilot, Santos Merlos, Facundo Pieres and Santiago Torres; Dutta Corp with Timmy Dutta, Joaquin Avendaño, Mariano “Nino” Obregon Jr. and Tomas Garcia del Rio; Park Place with Andrey Borodin and Hilario Ulloa; La Fe with Louis Devaleix, Lucas Diaz Alberdi, Francisco Elizalde and Roberto Bilbao; La Dolfina with David Paradice, Rufino Merlos, Poroto Cambiaso and Tomas Panelo; Tamera with Alejandro Poma, Segundo Saravi, Matias Torres Zavaleta and Diego Cavanagh; and Valiente with Bob Jornayvaz, Mariano “Peke” Gonzalez Jr., Paco de Narvaez Jr. and Adolfo Cambiaso. The Clearwater team with Chip Campbell, James “Jared” Zenni, Lucas Criado Jr. and Raul “Gringo” Colombres will compete in the USPA Gold Cup and U.S. Open Polo Championship.

The 2024 Gauntlet of Polo will serve as the premier spectacle of the NPC season. The three-part series will begin Feb. 9-25 with the C.V. Whitney Cup, continue with the USPA Gold Cup from Feb. 23 to March 24, and conclude with the U.S. Open Polo Championship from March 22 to April 21. The prize money distribution for the 2024 season will follow last year’s format: $50,000 will be awarded to each of the winning teams of the C.V. Whitney Cup and the USPA Gold Cup, and $100,000 will be presented to the winner of the U.S. Open Polo Championship.

All Gauntlet of Polo games at NPC will be broadcast exclusively by the USPA Polo Network. Livestreamed games will be available at, as well as across multiple USPA social media platforms.

In addition to livestreaming on USPA Polo Network, Global Polo Entertainment and USPA Global Licensing have extended their historic relationship with ESPN through 2024 to bring the finals of the top U.S. polo events to ESPN platforms.

Tickets for Sunday brunch and stadium seating for all Gauntlet of Polo events on U.S. Polo Assn. Field One can be purchased at


Serving The Eyecare Needs Of Patients

Serving The Eyecare Needs Of Patients

Highly Skilled Ophthalmologists And The Latest In Technological Advances At Florida Eye

For nearly 50 years, the Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute has been taking care of the eyecare needs of local residents. In that time, the practice has grown to include a medical staff of highly skilled ophthalmologists at offices in Wellington, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach and west Boynton Beach.

The practice was first established by Dr. Jonathan Chua in 1975. It was purchased by Dr. Randy Katz and Dr. Lee Friedman in 2004. Under the direction of Katz and Friedman, Florida Eye’s mission has remained the same — to provide outstanding vision care to residents of South Florida. The addition of Dr. Barry Schechter as the institute’s third partner made it possible for the practice to reach out to even more patients, offering a more comprehensive range of eyecare solutions.

The practice has multiplied in more recent years, adding another full-time ophthalmologist in 2016, Dr. Jonathan Criss, followed by Dr. Megan Rowlands, Dr. Steven Naids, Dr. Jonathan Lam, and an optometrist, Dr. James Walsh, in 2021. The practice is managed by Jason Feuer, an experienced administrator with more than 27 years of ophthalmology experience.

Several years ago, Florida Eye partnered with EyeSouth Partners, an eyecare management organization, to ensure high-quality administrative support, clinical quality, and long-term stability and growth of the practice.

When patients come to Florida Eye, they become a part of a practice that treats patients like family. Through exams and corrective procedures, patient education and continued contact, Florida Eye keeps patients healthy, informed and seeing the world more clearly.

At Florida Eye, patients receive treatment for a wide array of eyecare needs, such as diabetic eye exams, diagnosis and treatment of macular degeneration and other eye diseases, emergency eyecare, treatment of eye trauma and infection, retinal eye exams and laser treatment, glaucoma exams and treatment, LASIK and refractive surgery, cataract and lens implant surgery, corneal transplants and glaucoma surgery.

“At Florida Eye in Wellington, we are board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons,” Dr. Steven Naids said. “We practice the most minimally invasive and cutting-edge technology to make the cataract surgery experience seamless. Many of our patients choose to have laser-assisted cataract surgery. Recently, we became one of the few practices in the country to offer the most advanced laser, the Ally femtosecond laser, to our patients.”

This is just one of the treatments available for debilitating vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

“Along with femtosecond laser technology, we also offer lifestyle-friendly advanced technology intraocular lens implants at the time of cataract surgery. This can provide an extended range of vision and freedom from glasses for the right patients,” Naids said. “Here at Florida Eye, we understand that glaucoma is a lifelong disease and treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. As such, we offer the full array of treatments for glaucoma of all severities, including lasers in the clinic and operating room, a variety of minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries, as well as traditional glaucoma surgeries, like trabeculectomies and tube shunts for more refractory cases.”

The doctors and staff at Florida Eye stay up to date with the latest advancements in eyecare.

“Our doctors are members of major societies and are thought leaders in the field of ophthalmology,” Naids said. “We publish original research, and our doctors have received best paper honors at international meetings.”

The practice takes a patient-centric approach to eyecare. “We empower patients to make the right choices for themselves by involving them in the decision-making process,” Naids said. “Vision is such a vitally important part of our lives. Cataract surgery can improve your quality of life overnight. With a combination of state-of-the-art technology and compassionate care, we can achieve an outstanding visual result.”

Florida Eye also prides itself on technological innovation to enhance the quality of patient care.

“Integrating technology into our patient care helps us optimize our patients’ surgical outcomes and improve our patients’ surgical experiences overall,” Dr. Megan Rowlands explained. “Our Ally femtosecond laser system during cataract surgery, for example, not only allows us to achieve greater precision for astigmatism correction by incorporating iris registration, but also minimizes the amount of energy and time required to remove the cataract. This confers a smoother surgical experience and faster healing time for our patients.”

The practice works closely with other medical professionals to support the needs of patients. This collaborative effort involves open communication, shared insights and coordinated efforts to address various aspects of a patient’s health that may impact their eyecare. This process also includes a multi-faceted approach to patient education. Curated patient literature offers detailed insights into various eye conditions, treatment options and preventive measures, complemented by informative videos that break down complex concepts into easily understandable visuals.

Florida Eye’s commitment to personalized care is exemplified through one-on-one consultations between doctors and patients, fostering a collaborative environment where questions are answered and individualized plans are crafted to ensure optimal eye health. In addition, patients have access to a wealth of information available at covering a range of eye health topics.

Meanwhile, the staff actively engages with the community through informative lectures, providing an opportunity for in-depth discussions on various eye health matters. The practice also takes part in a variety of clinical trials that may be available to patients that qualify. This research serves as the cornerstone of continuous improvement in patient eyecare.

This commitment helps Florida Eye stay at the forefront of ophthalmological advancements and extends to active involvement in research and academic pursuits, which includes publishing original research that contributes to the evolving landscape of eyecare. The doctors at Florida Eye have not only engaged in groundbreaking research but have also been honored with recognition at international meetings, helping to shape the future of ophthalmology on a global scale.

The Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute accepts more than 600 insurance plans, in addition to Medicare. Patients with financial concerns can call the office at (561) 737-5500 to inquire about insurance issues and payment plans, such as the CareCredit card and the Alphaeon credit card.

The Florida Eye Microsurgical Institute is located at 2575 S. State Road 7 in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 792-1205 or visit


Village To Host Black History Month Forum

Village To Host Black History Month Forum

In order to celebrate the growing diversity of the village and the unique perspective of Wellington’s Black community, the Village of Wellington will host its second annual Black History Month Leaders Forum on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at the Wellington Community Center.

As February unfolds, the nation comes together to honor and celebrate Black History Month, recognizing the significant contributions of the Black community. In Wellington, the Black History Month Leaders Forum, now in its second year, is a compelling event that brings together influential leaders to share insights, experiences and visions for the future.

Wellington, having grown more diverse over the last decade, is an ideal location for events promoting inclusivity and understanding. The Black History Month Leaders Forum aims to foster dialogue, inspire change and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the Black community. Special thanks go to Palm Beach County School Board Member Marcia Andrews of District 6 and Marcia Hayden, president of the Alpha Alpha Upsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., for hosting this event in partnership with the Village of Wellington.

This year’s forum is set to take place on Wednesday, Feb. 7, featuring a diverse lineup of speakers excelling in various fields, including business, politics, arts and academia. Last year’s speakers included Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker; orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Coleman; Ricky Wade, owner of 30 McDonald’s franchises in South Florida; School District of Palm Beach County Chief Operating Officer Joseph Sanches; Teledactyl co-founder Alan Bottorff; women’s healthcare specialist Dr. Colette Brown-Graham; Brian and Cassandra Oliver, owners of KWA Group Branding; and Palm Beach State College President Ava Parker.

This year, attendees can look forward to engaging discussions led by additional influential figures who have played pivotal roles in shaping the narrative of Black history in Palm Beach County and the Wellington community. They include School District of Palm Beach County Chief Academic Officer Dr. Glenda Sheffield; Emerald Cove Middle School Principal Dr. Eugina Feaman; Palm Beach County Bar Association President Grasford Smith; Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Byron Smith; and Lamont Humber, a retired agriculture pilot for the United States Forest Service.

This year’s featured speaker is Nicole Cummings, deputy program manager for the Exploration Upper Stage RL10 Rocket Engine. Cummings also happens to be a graduate of Wellington High School. Galean Stewart, assistant news director for WPTV NewsChannel 5, will serve as moderator of the Black History Month Leaders Forum.

The forum will feature conversations addressing topics such as the significance of Black History Month, the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the role of education in promoting understanding and unity. These discussions aim to provide attendees with valuable insights and perspectives contributing to positive change in the community. Speakers will take the stage to share their personal journeys, triumphs and challenges, inspiring attendees and serving as a testament to their resilience and determination. From community leaders to business professionals, the speakers will provide a diverse array of experiences highlighting the multifaceted nature of Black excellence.

The forum will provide opportunities for community engagement, allowing attendees to connect with local leaders actively working toward creating a more inclusive and equitable society. In its second year, the Black History Month Leaders Forum is not just a one-time event but a platform to promote ongoing awareness and dialogue. Attendees will be encouraged to take the lessons learned and discussions held back to their communities, fostering a ripple effect of positive change.

The Black History Month Leaders Forum stands as a testament to the power of dialogue, education and community engagement. As we celebrate Black History Month, events like these play a crucial role in shaping a more inclusive and understanding society. Wellington’s commitment to hosting such forums is a step toward building bridges, fostering unity and acknowledging the invaluable contributions of the Black community to the fabric of our community and great hometown.



Recollections From The ‘Voice Of Polo’

Recollections From The ‘Voice Of Polo’  
Tony Coppola, Owner Of The Tackeria And A Former President Of The United States Polo Association, Has Been There Since The Very Beginning Of Polo In Wellington

By Y.A. Teitelbaum

Wellington The Magazine’s year-long Wellington History feature series includes the recollections of early Wellington pioneers who built the community we enjoy today. This month, longtime polo writer Y.A. Teitelbaum speaks with “Voice of Polo” Tony Coppola, founder and owner of The Tackeria, on the early years of polo in Wellington. Coppola was already a familiar face on the South Florida polo scene when the legendary Bill Ylvisaker unveiled his vision for polo in Wellington.

Tony Coppola is synonymous with polo in Wellington, just as Wellington is recognized as the “winter equestrian capital of the world.” As the iconic “Voice of Polo” and a local businessman, Coppola has been here since the beginning.

Coppola started riding when he was nine years old and began playing polo on Long Island in New York before he turned 13. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and spending several winters at home after being discharged, he moved to South Florida and continued playing. He also was a club manager and an umpire before he shifted his focus onto the business side of the sport. He opened The Tackeria in the mid-1970s, selling polo tack to players from a mobile trailer parked next to the fields.

“In 1977, I took a ride with [Palm Beach Polo founder] Bill Ylvisaker west of [State Road 7], the end of the world, and he told me about this great vision that he had [of a polo club],” the 77-year-old Coppola recalled. “Forest Hill was just two lanes. Big Blue was still a dirt road. South Shore was paved only until Pierson, and a dirt road the rest of the way.”

That vision was the catalyst that ultimately materialized into the internationally renowned Palm Beach Polo and Country Club, a gated community where high-end homes were eventually surrounded at its peak by 10 full-sized fields, including a stadium, 45 holes of golf and some two dozen tennis courts.

“The amazing thing was that Ylvisaker’s vision was incredible,” said Coppola, who moved to Loxahatchee Groves in 1979. “Prior to that, the Sunshine League in Boca Raton had four, maybe six teams. He had this thing about making this an international destination. The first couple of years we had 10, 12 teams playing 22-goal level polo. We had two teams out of Colombia, [one from] Nigeria, [one from] France, Argentina.”

It was quite a sight to see when Coppola returned to Wellington before the 1979 polo season started.

“Actually, what I always marvel over was when I returned in the fall, the stadium was only partially finished,” he continued. “The Saturday before the first game on the stadium field, there were well over 100 people working. There was a line of people carrying chairs up the stadium stairs. It was like the ants bringing the crumbs back to the queen. Painters painting, welders welding.”

This year, The Tackeria celebrates its 45th anniversary and is one of the longest continuous businesses still operating in the village. He knows they were lucky to be here at the beginning and still here decades later.

“Schaefer Drugs is the oldest in the community, and probably a couple of real estate brokers,” said Coppola, who remembers the paint store, the deli and pizza shop from the earliest days. “But we’re in the top 5. Businesses have come and gone. If we’re not in the top 5, then the Top 10.”

During the first several years, Coppola operated a small store in the polo club barns to be closer to the players, which made it easier to sell tack, bridles, mallets, bits and other polo equipment.

The business moved to various locations around Wellington as the growth of polo and equestrian disciplines flourished at a steady pace. Coppola’s 12,000-square-foot store and warehouse has been at the epicenter of the equestrian crossroads on the corner of South Shore Blvd. and Pierson Road for the last 15 years. The store is close to numerous polo fields, as well as the hunter/jumper and dressage venues, basically across the street from the original Palm Beach Polo stadium.

“We used to turn in to come to the polo club [where the west entrance on South Shore is] and drive along that canal, it was a dirt road, to get to the club barns,” Coppola said. “And then they finally closed it off, and we had to drive all the way to the corner and make a left-hand turn [onto Pierson].”

For Coppola, the polo in Wellington wasn’t limited to just the stadium. Wellington had less than 10,000 residents in the early 1980s, so locals took advantage of the abundant empty space.

“Where the village complex sits, we used to play polo, three on a side, there, right on Forest Hill Blvd. in the summer for the locals,” Coppola recalled.

In addition to running his business full-time, Coppola was announcing mid-week polo matches at Palm Beach Polo. He has now announced every U.S. Open, the premier polo tournament in North America, for the last 45 years. He has also served on numerous committees for the United States Polo Association (USPA) and recently served a two-year term as president.

In 2006, Coppola received the prestigious Iglehart Award for his lifetime contributions from the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, reflecting his years of passion and dedication to the sport.

Wellington, Coppola and The Tackeria grew up together. Coppola has many memories and has seen even more changes.

One sentimental memory Coppola recalls isn’t the first dollar earned from The Tackeria but rather a guestbook that he started while selling polo equipment at Oak Brook Polo near Chicago.

The collection of signatures from nearly every top player in the 1970s is probably his most cherished memory. However, the keepsake was lost and never recovered. It is one of Coppola’s biggest regrets.

“Juan Carlos Harriott [arguably the greatest player ever], all the polo players, [Hall of Famers] Tommy Wayman, Bart Evans, Joe Barry, all the great Argentines, I had this great book, but somewhere along the line, it got lost. That would be a great memory to have,” he said.

Coppola is a Wellington pioneer, and he was in the right place at the right time with the right people to see it all unfold before him.


Wellington The Magazine Celebrates Two Decades

Wellington The Magazine Celebrates Two Decades
Kicking Off Our Year-Long Anniversary As We Reflect On The Past 20 Years

In the quiet embrace of Wellington, a publication emerged two decades ago that would weave the stories of the village into a colorful tapestry. Wellington The Magazine, from its humble inception, has grown to become a testament to the richness of community spirit and the power of storytelling. As we commemorate our 20th anniversary, it’s an opportune moment to look back on the journey, celebrate the milestones, and cast a hopeful gaze into the future.

As we take a walk down memory lane, we reminisce about when Wellington The Magazine was born in January 2004 with a vision to capture the essence of this vibrant community, launching with a feature on Wellington’s unique Aero Club neighborhood and an array of stories on shopping, eating and living in Wellington. The magazine became a unique voice for the community, chronicling local events, profiling noteworthy personalities and celebrating the achievements that made Wellington a fascinating and tight-knit community.

Thumbing through hundreds of pages and skimming through story after story gives us such a sense of pride in the team that brought this publication to life, anchored in the idea that Wellington needed a monthly lifestyle magazine of its own. Even until today, planning and visualizing all the content, layout and design elements still exhilarate the team each and every issue. Although many of the features have since taken on a life of their own, across many plot twists and turns, the stories of businesses and individuals will live on in our archive of magazines forever. On 20 years of magazine pages, we see familiar faces, some who have moved away and some who are no longer with us. Yet their stories and legacies live on.

Over the past 20 years, Wellington The Magazine has achieved many milestones. In our first issue, we laid out an array of content categories and departments, refining each periodically to make sure we were providing the local stories that our local readers want. This has included features on local businesses, community events, personality profiles and human-interest pieces that have resonated with readers, creating a bond that goes beyond the ink and paper. We have profiled local entrepreneurs, sampled the fare at countless area restaurants and brought readers into many of the most amazing homes in Wellington. We have profiled world-renowned equestrians, along with the stars of our own community — artists, business leaders, health professionals, educators and more.

As the community evolved, so did the magazine. It adapted to the changing times, embracing digital platforms and multimedia storytelling while staying true to its roots. This evolution mirrored the transformation of Wellington itself, becoming not just a magazine but a living, breathing part of the village’s journey.

Two decades later, Wellington The Magazine stands as a testament to the power of local journalism, and its impact isn’t confined to its pages. Through events, partnerships and community engagement initiatives, it has fostered a sense of belonging among residents. It has become a platform for dialogue, a catalyst for positive change and a unifying force that goes beyond the boundaries of neighborhoods. One of the magazine’s most significant achievements has been amplifying the voices of the community. Through interviews, profiles and photography, it has given a platform to residents, business owners and community leaders, creating a vibrant mosaic of perspectives that define Wellington.

Although it is fun to look back, we must never lose sight of envisioning our next 20 years. As we stand on the cusp of a new era, Wellington The Magazine is poised to embrace technological advancements that will redefine storytelling. From virtual reality experiences to interactive features, the magazine will continue to evolve, ensuring that it remains a relevant and engaging source of information for the community. The next two decades hold the promise of further expanding the magazine’s scope. As the community grows, so will the stories to be told. We explore new avenues, delve into untold narratives and continue to be the bridge connecting residents with the heartbeat of Wellington.

In an era of constant change, the magazine will not only adapt, but lead the way in fostering innovation. From community-driven initiatives to collaborations with local artists and businesses, Wellington The Magazine will be at the forefront of initiatives that shape our community’s future.

Wellington The Magazine’s 20th anniversary is not just a celebration of the past, but a gaze into the future. As we applaud the journey so far, we are equally excited about the untold stories, uncharted territories and unimagined possibilities that the future holds. Together, as a community, we look forward to the continued growth, evolution and impact that this magazine will have on the lives of residents and the vibrant Village of Wellington. Here’s to two decades of storytelling — and to many more chapters yet to be written.


Wellington’s Winter Wonderland

Wellington’s Winter Wonderland The USPA’s National Polo Center Offers World-Class Polo And So Much More This Season

Situated in the heart of Wellington’s legendary horse country, the National Polo Center-Wellington (NPC) is the perpetual home for polo in the United States and enables the United States Polo Association to showcase the finest that the sport has to offer. The 2024 winter season at NPC is now underway, showcasing many of the finest teams and players in the sport.

The entrance to the stunning property takes you down a palm tree-lined drive that leads past tennis courts toward the pavilion and adjacent stadium. The natural Florida terrain is augmented by a large lake, lush tropical landscaping and some of the most carefully manicured polo fields in the world. Spectating from the stadium, private boxes, fieldside tailgates and special hospitality tents, all overlooking the prestigious U.S. Polo Assn. Field One, is an unparalleled experience.

The 161-acre venue hosts some of the sport’s premier events and tournaments, including the Gauntlet of Polo, which takes places from February to April every winter featuring the world’s preeminent teams, professional athletes and finest horses. They come together for three months to battle head-to-head for the coveted trophies of the C.V. Whitney Cup (Feb. 9 to Feb. 25), the USPA Gold Cup (Feb. 23 to March 24) and the U.S. Open Polo Championship (March 22 to April 21).

In addition to the Gauntlet of Polo, NPC offers the NPC 16-Goal Championship, which is comprised of four USPA tournaments, including the Joe Barry Memorial (Jan. 11 to Jan. 28), the Ylvisaker Cup (Jan. 26 to Feb. 24), the Iglehart Cup and the Outback Cup.

The debut of the National President’s Cup (April 12 to April 21), at the NPC venue and under a new format, unites some of the most talented 8-goal teams in the nation. Another marquee event, the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship (Feb. 3 to Feb. 18), brings together the world’s most talented female players to compete in the final round of the most prestigious women’s tournaments in North America.

The first-rate facilities at NPC include much more than its eight beautifully maintained polo fields and world-class competition. NPC boasts a stadium, restaurants, social club, spa, pool, gym and tennis courts. With more than 7,000 square feet of indoor event space, the Wellington venue is capable of hosting hundreds of guests and many special events.

The tennis program at NPC has grown tremendously in the last year with the addition of tennis instructor Scott Williams, who has coached a number of professional tennis players ranked on the ATP World Tour, such as Tommy Haas (Germany), Anna Kournikova (Russia), Max Mirnyi (Belarus) and more. The 2024 tennis season looks to bring on more competitive teams, tournaments and classes for NPC members. Other NPC fitness facilities include a gym, yoga and Pilates classes. The spa services at NPC have also been upgraded and now offer specialized massages, facials, chiropractic services, waxing and acupuncture.

The venue encompasses multiple restaurants and event spaces, making it the perfect place to spend a night out or to host an event. Sunday brunch at the Pavilion features an ever-changing array of delicious items spread out over various stations that open to a spacious outdoor terrace. With a fun atmosphere and a fieldside view of the nation’s best polo, the Pavilion is a prime ticket to the action. The Pavilion Café, which offers a delectable selection of salads and handhelds, is set to open to the public on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Located in the center stadium, the 7th Chukker offers delicious dining and is now open to the general public. The lounge overlooking U.S. Polo Assn. Field One is open Wednesday to Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. Dinner service is by reservation only. The 7th Chukker offers an a la carte dinner service, an extensive wine list, and space that can accommodate 50 seated guests or 100 attendees for cocktail-style events.

The Polo Club at NPC offers a variety of membership opportunities, including social, junior and equestrian packages. Membership benefits include access to social facilities and participation in exclusive events held throughout the week, including poolside movie nights, lobster dinners, lecture series, chef’s tasting dinners and holiday brunches.

Events held in 2023 included wine dinners showcasing Orin Swift, Il Borro by Salvatore Ferragamo and Folded Hills & Vezer Family Winery. Last year, the center hosted 10-goal polo player and Argentine horse breeder extraordinaire Adolfo Cambiaso as part of its popular speaker series. The event featured cocktails and light bites in addition to Cambiaso’s presentation. 2023 holiday events included an Easter egg hunt, Holly Jolly Brunch and a New Year’s dinner. Other member-only events held in 2023 included Komos Tequila Night, a Mardi Gras celebration, a casino night, and Kentucky Derby and Preakness watch parties.

Throughout the week, Tuesdays will serve as game nights with a variety of entertaining card games available to play. Wednesdays will host the popular NPC Speaker Series, movie nights and the occasional wine or chef’s dinner. Twice a month, the Women’s Collective will gather on Thursday. To kick off the weekend in style, Fridays will offer a lush lobster dinner and live entertainment. Stop by the club on Saturday to watch a horse show via streaming and get excited for Sunday’s big match.

Enjoy live entertainment after every Sunday game at the Mallet Grille, which offers outdoor patio dining and poolside seating in addition to its indoor space. The patio provides spectacular views of the stadium and polo fields, while the indoor restaurant features exquisite cuisine in an intimate setting. The Mallet Grille serves seasonal menus with a variety of fresh seafood, grilled steaks and cocktails, making it an ideal setting for all types of events.

NPC stands as a crown jewel, offering an unparalleled experience for polo enthusiasts and a diverse array of amenities for its members and Wellington locals. The venue’s state-of-the-art facilities make it a hub not only for premier polo events, but for a wide variety of recreational activities. The diverse dining options provide fine culinary delights with fieldside views.

With a variety of membership opportunities and a calendar brimming with exclusive events, NPC not only celebrates the essence of polo but also fosters a vibrant community, making it a world-class destination for unforgettable moments.

The National Polo Center-Wellington is located at 3667 120th Avenue South in Wellington. Learn more about the 2024 season at




Put on your best outfits and break out your champagne glasses — Wellington’s world-famous winter polo season is underway. Following last year’s inaugural season at the National Polo Center-Wellington, the nation’s “Sunday Field” for polo is ready for the excitement to return. If you listen carefully, perhaps you can hear the thundering sound of hoofs galloping at full speed across the field, led by some of the world’s best polo players. Watching the “sport of kings” on Sundays at NPC is a tradition to be enjoyed by everyone, from year-round residents to jet-setting socialites, longtime polo experts to those new to the sport. Perhaps you prefer cheering from the grandstands, or maybe tailgating is more your style. Others enjoy the sumptuous brunch with all the amenities at the Pavilion. Either way, the United States Polo Association’s National Polo Center-Wellington is the place to be on Sunday afternoons. As we do each year, Wellington The Magazine is highlighting just a small handful of the many amazing athletes you will see on NPC’s pristine fields this season. Turn the page and meet the Faces of Polo 2024.

American prodigy Hope Arellano hails from a long line of polo players. Arellano has held a mallet in her hand since early childhood. At age 12, she won her first 12-goal tournament alongside her brothers, Lucas and Agustin Arellano, and her Hall-of-Fame father, Julio Arellano. The young superstar’s success has catapulted her through the ranks and the record books. At 14, Arellano became the youngest player in history to win the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship. In 2022, she became the first woman to represent the U.S. in the prestigious XII FIP World Polo Championship. Come January, Arellano will once again make history as she surpasses her father’s highest handicap to become the first American player since 2015 to achieve a 10-goal status and the youngest American ever to reach a 10-goal women’s handicap. Not just excelling in the U.S., in December, Arellano became the first American to win the Women’s Argentine Open.

Tomas Panelo’s polo career has been on the rise since 2017, when he represented his home country of Argentina and won the XI FIP World Polo Championship. In 2021, the fresh-faced Argentine secured another monumental victory at the Queen’s Cup. Panelo had a record year in 2023. During the inaugural winter season at the National Polo Center, Panelo secured wins in the USPA Gold Cup with Scone and an impressive performance in the Ylvisaker Cup final. Over the summer, Panelo shined as he set the speed during the 2023 summer in Santa Barbara with Brookshire, where he picked up wins in the America Cup and the NetJets Pacific Coast Open.

Kylie Sheehan’s track record speaks for itself. From winning both interscholastic and intercollegiate national titles at Garrison Forest (2009) and the University of Virginia (2012, 2013), to winning the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship with BTA/The Villages (2021), Sheehan has proven her polo proficiency time and again. The Baltimore native remains dedicated to growing the sport at home through the Wellington-based Flying Cow Polo Club and the Women of Wellington (WOW) tournament series. The newly formed league provides additional playing opportunities for women and serves as a platform to promote amateur and professional female players, encouraging greater participation in the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship.

Dominating the 2023 winter season at the National Polo Center, 18-year-old Santos Merlos of Argentina made his mark with Iconica in his first professional showcase in Wellington last year. Merlos and his Iconica teammates took home the win from the first Florida Circuit 16-Goal Super-Series Championship after capturing the Joe Barry Memorial, Ylvisaker Cup and Iglehart Cup. In the Joe Barry Memorial, Merlos was named Most Valuable Player after a spectacular four-goal performance. The son of former 10-goaler Sebastian Merlos, this young competitor is sure to shine again this season and is one of the top players to watch!

A long-time legend in the sport, Argentine Adolfo Cambiaso is a name synonymous with polo itself and an integral part of American polo. At just 19 years old, Cambiaso earned the distinguished 10-goal handicap status, and in 2000, he founded La Dolfina, one of the most successful Argentine teams in history. Now 48, the veteran player has a record to match with one of the most successful careers in the Argentine Triple Crown, as well as victories in England and the United States. Throughout his time competing in the U.S., Cambiaso has acquired eight C.V. Whitney Cup victories, 15 USPA Gold Cup titles and nine U.S. Open Polo Championship trophies, including five Most Valuable Player awards during the final. A seasoned professional, the industry titan has now begun focusing his attention on his legacy — his children — competing in the prestigious Gauntlet of Polo series alongside his son, Adolfo “Poroto” Cambiaso Jr. in 2021 and 2022.

Born into a family of horse lovers and polo players, California native Santi Torres was riding horses as soon as he could walk. Torres started playing peewee polo at age four. By age eight, he was caring for and riding a full string. By age 11, Torres had gone pro. In the years since, he has continued to perfect his craft and add to his trophy collection, winning the Pacific Coast Open in 2012. As a former Valiente competitor, Torres won the C.V. Whitney Cup, the Joe Barry Memorial, the USPA Gold Cup and the Ylvisaker Cup with the powerhouse organization. Most recently, Torres competed in the 2023 Gauntlet of Polo series with Dazos and represented the U.S. against Ireland in the international conclusion to the National Polo Center’s inaugural season.

Adolfo “Poroto” Cambiaso Jr., son of polo legend Adolfo Cambiaso, is following in his father’s footsteps — literally. The younger Cambiaso emerged on the high-goal scene in 2021 when he competed alongside his father in the Gauntlet of Polo for the first time, winning the USPA Gold Cup and the U.S. Open Polo Championship with Scone. In 2022, Cambiaso picked up another American win in the Pacific Coast Open in California, as well as his first Argentine double, winning the Hurlingham Open and the Argentine Open with his father’s organization, La Dolfina. Now rated at 10 goals, Cambiaso competed in his third Gauntlet of Polo season with Scone in 2023 — this time, without his father at his side — and led his team to victory to take home the sixth prestigious title of his career, the USPA Gold Cup.

Born in Argentina, Hilario Ulloa grew up immersed in the sport thanks to his father, world-renowned trainer Carlos “Polito” Ulloa. Reaching the elusive 10-goal status in 2017, Hilario Ulloa has remained among the top players in the world, competing on the global stage in the United States, England and Argentina. A four-time-winner of the U.S. Open Polo Championship and the C.V. Whitney Cup, Ulloa and Park Place have dominated the winter season at the National Polo Center in recent years.

Facundo Pieres is modern-day, professional polo personified. Born into a family of polo players and descended from polo great Gonzalo Pieres, Facundo grew up playing polo in Argentina with his brothers Gonzalo “Gonzalito” and Nicolas “Nico” Pieres, as well as cousin Pablo “Polito” Pieres. Facundo Pieres holds an extraordinary record in Argentina, England and the U.S. Of all his accomplishments, the most notable may be Pieres’ 2019 Gauntlet of Polo victory, when he led Pilot to capture all the tournaments in the series in its inaugural year. To this day, Pilot remains the only team to do so. Most recently, in December, Pieres won the 2023 Argentine Open with La Natividad

These are just a few of the amazing athletes competing at NPC this season, which kicks off with the Continental Cup (Dec. 31 to Jan. 7). The Continental Cup is also the start of the NPC 16-Goal Championship series, which 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 season’s most anticipated competition, the Gauntlet of Polo series, 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. Also at NPC this season is the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship during the month of February and the debut of the National President’s Cup, which will unite some of the most talented 8-goal teams in the nation when it is held April 12-21. Learn more about the season at


The Top Level Of High-Goal Polo In The United States

The Top Level Of High-Goal Polo In The United States The World Polo League At The Grand Champions Polo Club Showcases The Only 26-Goal Polo Played Outside Of Argentina

By Sharon Robb

The World Polo League, the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina, opens its sixth season with a star-studded lineup at the Grand Champions Polo Club in February.

The season-opening All-Star Challenge Tournament kicks off the high-goal season Feb. 6-25 on the club’s well-manicured fields. The All-Star Challenge is the first of four grass tournaments. The others are the Feb. 22 to March 10 Founders Cup, the March 6-23 Palm Beach Open and the March 20 to April 13 Triple Crown.

The WPL then moves to the sands of Miami Beach for the April 19-21 Beach Polo World Cup, and the popular WPL Polo Pride also returns.

The star-studded lineup showcases some of the sport’s best players in the world. Argentine 10-goalers Pablo MacDonough and Jeta Castagnola head the lineup. The pair are coming off winning the 130th Argentine Open with their La Natividad team, capturing the final with a 13-10 win over Adolfo Cambiaso-led La Dolfina Saudi.

MacDonough — ranked as a 10-goaler in Argentina, Great Britain and the United States — earned the Gonzalo Heguy Most Valuable Player Award at the Argentine Open. The crowd-pleaser has won 12 Argentine Opens, 10 Hurlingham Opens and 12 Tortugas Opens. He is one of the most dominant players in the World Polo League and never ceases to amaze fans with his ability.

Castagnola won the Javier Novillo Astrada Award as top scorer of the tournament with 38 goals. Ranked third in the World Polo Tour rankings, Castagnola is one of the sport’s rising stars. He is ranked at 10 goals in Argentina and 9 goals in Great Britain and the U.S. He has won two Argentine Opens and Tortugas Opens, and one British Open, Hurlingham Open and Queens Cup.

The pair will be joined by 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero, a member of the La Dolfina Saudi team. Other top players are former 10-goaler Gonzalito Pieres, Alejandro Novillo Astrada and hometown favorite Nic Roldan, the second highest ranked American player at 8 goals.

The popular World Polo League, with its world-class horses and fast, wide-open play, was created by club owners Melissa and Marc Ganzi. It filled a void left when the United States Polo Association, the sport’s governing body, announced it was lowering high-goal polo to 18-22 goals and would not have 26-goal polo.

The Ganzis wanted to make sure that the world-class league preserved the highest level of polo and its rich tradition in the U.S. The WPL has its own set of simpler, fan-friendly rules to improve the flow of the game, and world-class umpires including top-ranked Gaston Dorignac.

In addition to the successful WPL, four other high-goal tournaments will be held: the Feb. 1-11 Sterling Cup (20 goals), the Feb. 1 to March 31 USPA Butler Handicap 18-22 Goal, the Feb. 7-24 $100,000 World Cup (0-40 goals), and the Feb. 27 to March 10 Santa Rita Abierto (20 goals).

The January through April winter season offers a full array of tournaments for players at every level. Men, women and junior players have a choice of competing in 6-, 8-, 12- and 16-goal leagues, in addition to the weekly Polo School Women’s League, WCT Finals, several junior tournaments under the Polo Training Foundation umbrella and special events.

The Polo School Women’s League, created by Alina Carta and Melissa Ganzi, is for all level female players with an emphasis on beginners and intermediate players. Held every Wednesday from January through April, games are held with an umpire.

Grand Champions will host several spectacular social events including “Chukkers and Cocktails at Sunset” for all levels of polo players and guests.

The various tournaments attract a large, international field of players from all corners of the world, including Argentina, Spain, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, England, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Venezuela, Chile and England.

The Grand Champions Polo Club and the Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 102-acre polo facility in Wellington with 212 stalls in nine self-contained barns, two exercise tracks, five climate-controlled tack rooms, a vet room, staff quarters, guest house and four polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation, a short work arena and stick-and-ball fields.

Wellington-based CTV Sports, formerly ChukkerTV, is live streaming the entire winter season, the only club in the world to do so, with Dale Schwetz and Jan-Erik Franck calling the action.

The Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm expert staff can customize a complete playing experience, including horses, pros and certified umpires, in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its Polo On Demand program at the turnkey facility. With Polo On Demand, there is an opportunity to tailor an experience to one’s skills and schedule, along with learning from top pros to bring out the best in a player or team.

The Polo School, a nonprofit organization and stand-alone USPA club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grassroots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. The Polo School operates January through May for the winter season.

For more information on the winter leagues or the polo school, call Juan Bollini at (561) 346-1099 or Cale Newman at (561) 876-2930. The Grand Champions Polo Club is located at 13444 Southfields Road in Wellington. To learn more about the 2024 season, visit


Unbridled Equestrian Pursuits

Unbridled Equestrian Pursuits Michael And Natalie Nicodema Are On A Quest To Transform Wellington’s Legal And Wellness Landscape


By Vyla Carter and Olivia Parr

In Wellington, where equestrian pursuits reign supreme, a dynamic duo has emerged as transformative figures, seamlessly blending the worlds of law, wellness and the love of horses.

Michael and Natalie Nicodema, a husband-and-wife team with more than three decades of shared history, have not only made indelible marks in their respective fields but have also left an enduring impact here in Wellington.

Michael Nicodema is a seasoned trial lawyer and principal shareholder at Greenberg Traurig PA’s West Palm Beach office. With a career spanning 30 years, he has earned a reputation as a versatile trial attorney, tackling everything from intellectual property cases to civil rights issues. However, it was his keen observation of the underserved legal needs within the equestrian industry that led him to initiate a groundbreaking venture.

“Two and a half years ago, during COVID-19, I finally decided, ‘You know what, I’m going to see if this is going to work,” Michael recalled. “So, I got together more than 50 top lawyers in my firm to cover all the practice areas you might think an equestrian, or someone in the polo world, or even the racing world, would need for their everyday business ventures.”

This initiative resulted in the formation of Greenberg Traurig’s Equine Industry Group, a legal sanctuary catering to the intricate needs of the equestrian world. Michael emphasizes the group’s vast expertise, covering areas crucial to equestrians, polo enthusiasts and racing aficionados alike.

As part of one of America’s largest and most prestigious law firms, the Equine Industry Group serves as a legal advocate for those deeply embedded in the equine sector.

Michael sheds light on common topics within the industry, ranging from transactional concerns like horse import taxes to litigation issues tied to buying and selling horses. “Whether it’s environmental, corporate, the sale of a barn or a dispute over a horse sale, you gotta know horses. And we know horses,” he said.

Beyond his legal endeavors, Michael has embraced the world of podcasting, providing a unique lens into the equestrian lifestyle. “That’s when I started thinking about a podcast,” he said. “And I started doing it, very low tech, by cell phone, interviewing the guests at really nice equestrian venues, the polo club or Global… Now we’re going to start doing some at Wellington International.”

One of Michael’s favorite podcast episodes delves into the unexpected synergy between law and cuisine.

“I think my favorite podcast was with Tim Gannon, the co-founder of Outback Steakhouse. Great polo man and a great entrepreneur,” he recalled. “It was such a free and easy discussion. One of the things we talked about was how Tim invented the Bloomin’ Onion, which is one of the signature appetizers on the Outback Steakhouse menu. Whatever topic I teed up, Tim’s words and stories had me 100 percent locked in. I could have talked with him for hours.”

While Michael extends legal support to the equestrian community, Natalie pursues her lifelong passion for riding horses while making significant contributions to community wellness. From her early days riding with clubs to owning and showing several horses throughout her riding career, Natalie found solace and balance in her connection with horses.

Inspired by a year-long illness, she transitioned from nursing to establishing her health and wellness coaching practice. “I’ve always been fascinated by health and wellness,” Natalie said.

Her illness became the catalyst for exploring alternative paths to well-being beyond conventional medicine. Now, through coaching, she assesses individuals’ lifestyles, environments and diets, guiding them to optimal health. Natalie’s coaching has not only transformed lives but also extended the lifespans of those with low life expectancies due to cancer.

“Being a champion or mental toughness comes through the body first,” Natalie advises equestrians. “If your body’s not strong because you slept badly, you didn’t feed it, you’re injured, you’re not going to feel that confidence that you need to be that winner in the ring.”

Her engagement in the horse world has been a conduit for change. “Every time you help somebody, you’re really helping a multitude of other people,” she said, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between equestrians and their horses, and urging riders to prioritize their well-being to be true partners with their equine counterparts.

Whether in the legal arena or the stables, Michael and Natalie commit themselves to the Wellington and horse-loving communities.

“We are just so passionate about the industry and horses, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that horses in equestrian sports are treated with the respect, dignity, love and care they deserve because for horse lovers like us, they are very, very special,” Michael said.

In the narrative of the Nicodemas, law and wellness converge in a harmonious blend, enriching the Wellington community and echoing the timeless bond between humans and horses. Through their unwavering dedication, this power couple continues to shape the narrative of Wellington’s legal and wellness landscapes, leaving an indelible imprint on the community they hold dear.