The South Florida turf may be devoid of snow, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a festive spirit permeating through the western communities as we enjoy the time of year that begins with Thanksgiving, continues with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah next week, and culminates with Christmas and New Years later this month.
This weekend, the holiday season truly kicks into high gear, with long-standing traditions abounding. For example, Wellington High School’s annual distribution of toys and bicycles at Rosenwald Elementary School in South Bay on Friday, Dec. 8. Wellington’s Student Government Association has made this a major project since the mid-1990s, raising thousands of dollars every year to ensure that every child in the school gets something for Christmas. The Rosenwald fifth-graders get bikes, but donations raised by the SGA covers smaller gifts like basketballs, dolls and electronic cars for the other children. More than 80 Wellington students helped with the project.
On a similar note, Saturday, Dec. 8 is the Wellington Equestrian Group’s annual holiday party for clients of the Caridad Center. Each year, 600 children and parents from the Caridad Center are treated to a magical Christmas party at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, complete with a visit from Santa and a distribution of gifts and bicycles.
Speaking of toys and donations, the Village of Wellington is partnering with Wellington InterFaith, the Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation, the Mall at Wellington Green, the Wellington Holiday Run, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on its ninth annual Hometown Holiday Toy Drive. Residents are encouraged to drop off new, unwrapped toys by Tuesday, Dec. 19 at the Wellington Municipal Complex, Village Park on Pierson Road, the Lake Wellington Professional Centre, the Community Services Office, the Wellington Community Center, Ultima Fitness, or any Wellington fire-rescue station. Monetary donations are also accepted and are tax-deductible.
While the spotlight was on Royal Palm Beach’s holiday celebration last weekend, Wellington is the focus of this weekend’s activities. Friday, Dec. 8 is the annual Winterfest event at the Wellington Amphitheater starting at 6 p.m., courtesy of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce. The annual tree lighting is on the agenda, as is musical and dance performances by local talent, including special guest Vanilla Ice. Two days later, on Sunday, Dec. 10, is the 34th annual Wellington Holiday Parade, produced by the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, which begins at 1:30 p.m. and winds along Forest Hill Blvd. from Wellington Trace to Ken Adams Way. Special guests at this year’s parade will be Major League Baseball pitcher Brad Peacock — a Palm Beach Central High School graduate and a member of the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros — along with 99-year-old World War II veteran James Zell of Wellington.
Next weekend is also full of holiday events in Wellington, starting with a free holiday movie night at the Wellington Amphitheater on Friday, Dec. 15, and continuing on Saturday, Dec. 16 with the popular Children’s Holiday Fishing Classic and a Neil Diamond Holiday Tribute Show, and culminating on Sunday, Dec. 17 with the annual Jingle Bell Run, a 5K race that begins at 7 a.m. Participants are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to Wellington families in need as part of the toy drive. For more information about Wellington events, visit www.wellingtonfl.gov/events.
Throughout the holiday festivities, we encourage focusing on the “giving” part of the season, as well as keeping the celebration end of things safe for yourself and others around you.