By Lori Hope Baumel
Originally appeared in Around Wellington Magazine on November 1, 2014
Before there were bleachers… we watched the horse jumping events from the side of the fence!
I have been a resident of Wellington since July of 1991. Prior to moving here my husband and I lived in the “Big Apple.” We loved New York City (NYC). As a young couple, very little was affordable for us there, yet, we always had something to see and do. We’re New Yorkers at heart and always will be. Fortunately, we lived in a subsidized apartment owned by the grad school my husband was attending. But, during the (Mayor) Dinkins era, NYC was a difficult place to raise children. Early on, our car was stolen and we didn’t bother to replace it. It was dirty, dangerous and too expensive for us to remain in the city after my husband’s training was complete. We had to decide whether or not we wanted to continue to struggle or find a place to live that was more child-friendly. We chose the latter.
For us, one of the biggest problems with “the city that never sleeps” was that the ongoing sirens and car alarms were so loud that my first-born son couldn’t sleep either. After five years, and the birth of another baby, my nerves were shot. Tired of dragging the stroller up and down subway steps, I was ready to live in a place that was welcoming, had excellent schools and provided space for our children to run and play.
While we were in NYC, my cousin and her family moved to Wellington. Although, at the time, it felt like it was in the boondocks, my husband and I decided to check it out when visiting Florida. Wellington was pioneer territory. Most of the main roads were unpaved. In 1990, there were only two supermarkets. Major shopping and dining required driving an exit north or south on the turnpike. In spite of all that, like Lewis and Clark, we packed up our family of four and set off to Wellington for a trial expedition.
Wellington was clean and the housing was affordable. There were plenty of parks for our little ones to roam. Fortunately, our children were accepted into the public school’s gifted program. We found the synagogue to be friendly and welcoming. My cousins were active there and I felt an instant connection. Our third child was born at Palms West Hospital in 1992. After five years of renting homes, we finally built our own.
Much has changed since we arrived here in our little Village of Wellington. It has more than doubled its size, has an “official” large-scale mall and the international equestrian community embraced our town as the epicenter of winter events. Over the years, NYC changed as well, for the better. Manhattan and neighboring Brooklyn and Queens are crawling with baby strollers and hipsters. If I were to be given the opportunity to raise a family there now, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so. But then was then and now is now.
As an admitted cultural snob, in the pioneering days, my husband and I made an effort to find venues for entertainment. The Kravis Center and Norton Museum provided a plethora of opportunities. We had season tickets to all the touring Broadway shows and exposed our children to the symphony, ballet, opera, puppetry and modern dance. Wellington’s proximity to cultural venues was perfect for us. We explored space and science at the West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale Science Museums and hopped up to Cape Kennedy and Disney World as they grew. Over the years, we traveled with our children to other parts of the country as well. Living in Wellington was affordable and, therefore, it allowed us to use our expendable income to take family vacations. My husband and I made a deal when we left New York City. “When we can afford it, one day we’ll come back as tourists.” And so we did!
The social climate in Wellington tends to instill a philosophy of giving back to the community. I have boxes of newspaper clippings of community-oriented events that we all participated in. We built Tiger Shark Cove (the first time) and voted for the first Village Council members. We marched in the parades, judged the debate matches, were active in cub scouts, girl scouts and, as “Hockey Mom,” I endured the smell of hockey bags in the back of the SUV. We, along with many other parents, volunteered our various talents to schools in the area. Lifelong friendships have been made and our children remain in touch with many of their childhood friends that they have known since preschool.
Recently, the writers on the website Movoto.com wrote an article listing Wellington as the sixth most boring town in Florida. They gathered up all of the places in the state whose borders have populations of 40,000 or more. Then, they used the Census and business listings to find information about each town in the following categories: nightlife (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.), live music venues, active life options (parks, outdoor activities, etc.), and arts and entertainment offerings (movie theaters, festivals, galleries, theaters, etc.).
In addition, Movoto based their “boredom ratings” on food venues: fast food restaurants (the more the more boring), percentage of restaurants that are not fast food (the lower the more boring), percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the lower the more boring), and population density (the lower the better). For a good laugh, here’s the article: www.movoto.com/fl/most-boring-places-in-florida/
Statistics, statistics. Ho-hum. Perfect way to size up a town, eh? If you scroll down while perusing the article, you’ll read that Movoto underestimated our resident’s interest in the equestrian community. I do not know one neighbor who is not proud of how unique and exciting it is when the “horses come to town.” I’m sure every town in Florida has customers in Publix wearing their riding boots, right? NOT!
Does the photo below look boring to you? Unfortunately, I was never trained to ride horses, but I count the days until the Winter Equestrian Festival arrives from January to the end of March, especially, the Saturday Night Lights events.
Take a few minutes to watch this incredible video featuring our Winter Equestrian Festival. For fun, you can count the 18 – 34 years olds in attendance:
2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival from REPUBLICA Studio on Vimeo.
Here’s my rebuttal to the folks over at Movoto. The key word here is proximity. Besides wonderful Wellington restaurants like Oli’s, Kontiki, the Grille (and at least 30 more right here in town) with outstanding menus, our twenty-minute proximity to world- class nightlife, theaters, festivals, restaurants, galleries, green markets and a multitude of entertainment venues is incomparable. I didn’t move to Wellington to live above a bar or grocery store. That is why we left NYC in the first place. Also, our parks and recreational facilities have always been a priority here. Very few towns in the state or even the country can match the quality of our outdoor amenities.
“Mr. Movoto’s” statistics can’t possibly measure the excitement of Clematis Street on a Saturday Night or the beauty of a short drive east ‘till we hit the beaches ALL YEAR ROUND. If we’re up to traveling a little further south, in forty-five minutes we can be in Fort Lauderdale (the spring break capital of the world) or in just over an hour we can catch the flavors of Miami Beach. Oh, and yes, I admit, our population of 18 – 34 year olds is 16.69 percent. No surprise there… our children received a great education here and moved on to colleges all over the state or to other parts of the country (as my own children did). It would be interesting to find out how many of those 18-year-olds return to the Western Communities to raise their families later on. I know my cousin’s sons did.
So, move over Movoto. Wellington is a great place to live, raise your kids and meet people from all cultures and walks of life. No one knows what the future brings. I cannot promise that I will remain here for the rest of my days. But I do know one thing, no matter where my children end up settling… they will always call Wellington home.
Live… Go… Do!
Top 5 List for November
1) So I did some digging… lyrics, even silly ones, sometimes “hit home.” Watch these two YouTube videos:
Two versions of The Things I Will Not Miss from the 1973 film Lost Horizon.
As a child, this was a scene from one of my favorite films, Lost Horizon. A New York City girl, played by Sally Kellerman and a resident of Shangri-La, played by Olivia Hussey, compare notes on what they want out of life based on where they live. This Portuguese subtitled segment was the only YouTube source available. If you’re in a hurry, the song begins two minutes into the scene. The music is by Burt Bacharach and the lyrics are by Hal David. See:
The Things I Will Not Miss
Performed by the stars of Broadway’s Wicked
Here’s a more contemporary version: Julie Reiber and Katie Adams of Wicked, performing the Bacharach and David song The Things I Will Not Miss. This video segment is from the Bacharach To The Future BC/EFA and Poz benefit. See:
Proximity, Proximity, Proximity!
Here’s a list of things to do that are a 20 – 30 minute drive!
2) For the 18-35 year olds:
Need a laugh?
Head over to the IMPROV in West Palm Beach
Straight from the comedy stages in NY and LA, the IMPROV has always presented top-tier talent. I’ve laughed myself to tears there many times.
For tickets and more info go to: palmbeach.improv.com
The IMPROV also offers comedy classes (5 week sessions) on Monday nights for an affordable fee.
Check it out at: improvstandupclasses.com
3) Laughs for all ages:
SARGE and Vanessa Hollingshead at the Lake Worth Playhouse.
Mark your calendars in advance.
(Sorry you missed Judy Tenuta, I’ve seen her twice and she’s amazingly funny. Perhaps you’ll catch her next time.)
For more info see: www.lakeworthplayhouse.org
4) The Kravis Center Presents Comedy, Dance, World Music, Broadway and more…
Last Comic Standing Live Tour
November 2 at 8 pm (Sunday)
Season 8 of Last Comic Standing premiered May 22 on NBC. The Emmy-nominated laugh-fest returns with an all-new group of the world’s funniest comics. Watch the series this summer on NBC, then see the finalists perform live as the Last Comic Standing Live Tour appears at the Kravis Center on November 2. (For Mature Audiences.)
Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. Concert Hall Tickets start at $15
Diavolo – Architecture in Motion
Jacques Heim, Artistic Director
November 7 at 8 pm (Friday)
Diavolo reinvents dance, re-images theater, and redefines thrills. Performers take movement, athletics and daring to the extreme, creating abstract narratives through surreal architectural landscapes. Under the Artistic Director Jacques Heim, the company creates an almost cinematic experience of powerful images that develop conceptual accounts of the human condition, utilizing unique architectural creations, to provide the backdrop for an evening of dramatic movement. Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. Concert Hall
Tickets start at $25 ∙ Only Orchestra and Grand Tier sections available
Beyond the Stage: A free pre-performance discussion by Steven Caras at 6:45 pm.
November 9 at 7:30 pm (Sunday)
DakhaBrakha is a quartet from Kiev whose sound is at once mesmerizing and mystical, melding soulful Ukrainian folk melodies with jazz and trance sounds. Aptly named, DakhaBrakha means “give/take” in the Ukrainian language. Mixing the fundamental structure of folk music with free-form improvisation and minimalist influences, this theatrical quartet of multi-instrumentalist singers creates a magical world of unexpected and engaging new music with Indian, Arabic, African, Russian and Australian instruments. Marshall E. Rinker, Sr. Playhouse – Tickets $28
Don McLean and Judy Collins
November 9 at 8 pm (Sunday)
Few performers have stood the test of time as well as Don McLean and Judy Collins. Don McLean has had a long and successful songwriting and performing career. In fact, “American Pie” is widely considered one of the top songs of the 20th century. A virtuoso of a variety of vocal styles, Don can – and does – inspire a range of emotions with his singing. Judy, too, began inspiring audiences with her sublime vocals, vulnerable songwriting and commitment to social activism. Five decades and 50 albums later, Judy, who began her impressive career at 13 as a piano prodigy, remains a vigorous writer and performer of songs that create hope and healing and heart. She also stays active in social causes. Don and Judy will ensure that audiences enjoy a “starry, starry night.”
Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. Concert Hall – Tickets start at $25
For the kid in all of us:
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA is the Tony Award®– winning Broadway musical from the creators of The Sound of Music and South Pacific that’s delighting audiences with its contemporary take on the classic tale. This lush production features an incredible orchestra, jaw-dropping transformations and all the moments you love – the pumpkin, the glass slipper, the masked ball and more – plus some surprising new twists. Be transported back to childhood and rediscover some of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s most beloved songs, including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” in this hilarious and romantic Broadway experience for anyone who’s ever had a wish, a dream… or a really great pair of shoes.
Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. Concert Hall – Tickets start at $25
And there’s so much more… See the full November 2014 calendar at
5) On view at the Norton Museum
Master Prints: Dürer to Matisse
The Norton Museum of Art is thrilled to present Master Prints: Dürer to Matisse, featuring astonishing works on paper including woodcuts, etchings, engravings, aquatints, and lithographs that range from the 15th to 20th centuries. This not-to-be-missed exhibition brings together several of the earliest as well as later examples of the golden age of printmaking. Works by old masters Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, and Canaletto, will be displayed alongside those of modern masters Degas, Matisse, Picasso, and Cezanne. The exhibition is on view Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 through Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, and is accompanied by a video demonstrating printmaking processes, and texts describing the role prints held in society before the advent of photography.
“Each and every work in this exhibition is rare, and of a breathtaking quality that is no longer available on the market,” says Jerry Dobrick, the Norton’s Curatorial Associate for European Art. “They are the best of the best – a virtual tour de force of the world’s finest prints ranging from portraits, landscapes, mythological and biblical subjects to scenes of everyday life – all created by the most famous artists of their time. “ He adds that, “This unique exhibition is the only opportunity to see these works, the NortonMuseum of Art is their only venue.”
World-class works such as German painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer’s engravings Knight, Death, and the Devil and Saint Jerome in His Study from 1513–1514 (two of 10 etchings by this master in the exhibition) are examples of the stellar works on display. A century later, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) created etchings with remarkable and subtle tonal ranges, evident in his Self-Portrait Leaning on a Window Sill from 1639, one of seven works by Rembrandt in the exhibition. In this etching, Rembrandt portrays himself in Renaissance attire, taking inspiration from two 16th-century works, Raphael’s Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, and Titian’s so-called Portrait of Ariosto. By referencing such esteemed artists and looking confidently at the viewer, the artist claims his position in society.
Of the modern masters on exhibit, Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) is represented by a color lithograph, Les Baigneurs (Grande Planche) from 1896-1898. Primarily a painter and draftsman, Cézanne was not a prolific printmaker. His print output consists of nine works in both etching and lithography. In 1895, Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard gave Cézanne an exhibition that was instrumental in promoting his work and establishing his reputation. This show coincided with the revival of color lithography in France in the 1890s, and Vollard was among those art entrepreneurs who commissioned and published prints for portfolios. Cézanne created several lithographs for one of Vollard’s early portfolios. One of them, The Large Bathers, was based on one of his favorite subjects – and his most popular painting at the time.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954) painter, sculptor, designer, and graphic artist, employed the technique of aquatint for the 1948 portrait, Nadia au Visage Rond, in the exhibition. One of the most economic works in its use of line, it is, at the same time, one of the most visually striking pieces in the exhibition.
For more info: www.norton.org.