On The Town – Wellington

Frank Licari: Welcome to the equestrian capitol
of the world. I’m Frank Licari and we’re here in Wellington, Florida where high-rises
give way to wide-open spaces. Announcer: This program is brought to you
by Discover The Palm Beaches. Visit ThePalmBeaches.com for more information. If we were to go to a map, tell me exactly
for somebody who’s never been here, how do you find Wellington? Well you go to Palm Beach first. Un-huh. And you go directly west about 12 miles and
you’re in Wellington. You’re in Wellington. How did this all come
about from the beginning? So we go back to what year? Well, back in the fifties Charles Oliver Wellington
bought up a lot of land around here and it was kind of a swampland. So they actually
started the Acme District. It was a special drainage district. The Acme District? Yes, and they helped to drain the land and
then it became farmland. Okay. I mean actually where the Aero Club is it be pepper fields
all over the place (Really?) and strawberry fields all over the place. I heard that Wellington was like the premiere
strawberry growers, right? Is it still that way? No there are no more. Got rid of ‘em. There’s airplanes flying in and out now. There’s airplanes now, so they got rid of
the strawberries. All right. And we put in houses. We’re with the real life horse farmer Andrew
Beller. Tell me about your lifestyle here. What’s the typical day like for you out
here? We start at about six in the morning. We feed
our horses, ah we start cleaning our stalls, after that we put the horses out. We actually
let two of our horses run around the property. Okay. We have a mini-horse. Really? That’s a mini-horse. That’s a mini-horse, everyone. Do you raise
the horses, do you do it for a specific reason? Or just for your own… We just do it. We’re Western Pleasure. Is there an Eastern Pleasure? No. In Wellington, you have a multitude of
different types of horse farms. Hunter jumper farms, dressage farms, then we also have the
top polo players in the world. They call Wellington the Equestrian Capitol of the World for four
months of the year. So this is Charm. This is Charm. This is one of our horses. She’s a buckskin-paint.
You’re going to grab the reins and then just swing over. I should have stretched. All right, hey that
was, let me tell you what, that was smooth. Come on just give her a little kick behind. Okay. Oh look at that, it works. Turn her this way, pull with your left hand,
or your right. You know horses are our passion, but I also have another passion. It doesn’t
poop, it doesn’t eat, and ah it self-balances. Is it easier to do than this? Because I’m
going in circles right now. I believe it’s a lot easier to do than this. Okay, okay. It’s another way I get around Wellington
in a beautiful preserve and I think you’ll have an easier time with it. All right. What have we got? These are called Segway’s. I have heard of them and I will say that I
am a man of the world, I have been around, I have driven a Segway before. One foot up on your Segway. I am. Now you’re other foot up on the Segway. I’m on. So now you’re on. Push and pull your hands
to that way to that direction. Awesome. That’s incredible. Now stop right there and do it
the other way. All right, I got nailed it. You’re awesome. I nailed it. You’re incredible. So now, let’s roll out into the Everglades. I’m following you. Let’s go. Not too close! We’re going to go out into the Marjory Stoneman
Douglas Everglades Habitat. Right. It’s a 365 acre preserve. Marjory Stoneman Douglas
wrote the most famous book about the Everglades called, “The River of Grass.” Just a hidden
gem. The animals are starting to slowly disappear, so my whole purpose I’m doing this is to
educate people about how important this is, how important the birds are to us, how important
all this grass is to us, just everything about this whole environment. If we change one thing,
we’ll change something else, we’ll change something else and it just keeps giving a
domino effect. Look at how clear the water is. Yeah. And out there, that bird right there
is very rare to see. It’s called a limpkin. It’s looking – Wow did you see that fish
jump? Yes. It’s looking for apple snails at the bottom
of the water. These birds are your swamp hens, look at them. Kind of a pigeon meets a chicken. Right? And purple with a red beak. That’s an invasive
species. That’s actually from Europe. This is a glossy ibis. Hopefully we are going to
see some gators. Who, who is hoping we see the gators? Is that
you? Me! Okay, you are. This is our 70 foot tall tower. Wow, look at that. That’s impressive. Is
there an elevator? No elevator, your legs! This is the Everglades,
this is the best it can be. It’s amazing. Guys, gator. We’ve got about a 7 or 8 foot
gator there, or maybe a little longer. See his tail coming up now. Yeah, yeah. You know what I like about this
tower? The gators are down there! He’ll come right into from there. Oh yeah, there you go. Okay. Awesome. Isn’t this awesome? It’s great, really great. Thank you so much
for this. I’m here with Sandra Harmon and she is in
the middle of creating a masterpiece. This is one of my favorite places in Wellington.
Literally 15 minutes out of my door and I’m here. So you’re at the edge of where the
Everglades starts. So how long have you been here? Since 1984. Wow! I came here to go into pediatric
practice and then I got to where I couldn’t practice medicine anymore from some back problems.
So I started painting and really enjoyed it. The arts community obviously has grown, right? We’ve had a lot of opportunities to exhibit
our art with the Wellington Art Society. We have the new Community Center and the new
City Hall in Wellington. That’s fantastic. Let’s get to the real
nitty-gritty here. Have you sold anything yet? Yeah! In the past year I’ve sold probably
about $8000 worth of paintings. Oh! Well look at you. Are you with the IRS? I am not with the IRS, no trust me, they’re
searching for me. So say I am an art connoisseur which obviously I am. Obviously you are. I walk up to a Sandra Harmon and this is you
know… A “plein aire” piece. Of course, well I was going to say that. It’s
a plein aire piece. Open air! Oh is that what it means? Yeah, yeah, it’s French. So we’re out
here painting what we see outdoors. And that’s.. Why is it always the French that get to name
these things? Why can’t it be like a guy from… Because they did it first. Okay, fair enough. So I’m trying to give you the emotional
feeling, the impression of the place. Am I supposed to cry when I see this? Am I
supposed to laugh? Look at the sun. It’s just leading me into
this lovely body of water. All right. I’m emotional. I’m very emotional
with the piece. What am I paying? Ah $600 bucks. Six hundred dollars! Should we haggle over
that? Sure. I wouldn’t haggle with you. $600 bucks,
I’d pay $600 bucks for that. Oh, would you? That’s good. It’s your soul pouring out
into the canvas. And my sweat, oh my gosh! Well that’s Florida for you. You chose it.
You could always go up to Jersey. Too cold! Yeah. Different emotion. Absolutely. Regret. We don’t want to paint regret. Especially
this time of the year. That’s right, we don’t want to paint regret. Great meeting you. Thanks for coming out here to find me. Maybe you can give me a lesson one day. Absolutely. All right. So in a town predominantly known for its equestrian
activities, what role does the art community have here? The main focus of the Wellington Arts Society
is we are a non-profit and we raise funds for scholarships for high school seniors who
are continuing their education in art. That’s great. It’s very, very exciting. We like to highlight our artists by giving
them many, many exhibition opportunities. Sure. And you’re also an artist, currently,
right? I am. Now, tell me about your art. My I guess true art form is jewelry. Did you make that? I made this. I made my bracelet, my ring,
my earrings. I’m also a chef. Are you really? That’s my real passion. It’s cooking. Well that’s art. That’s art. You just
can’t put it up on a wall. Well you can but it just doesn’t last that long and it
smells after a while. So on a weekday, I can come in here and stroll
the hallways and I can buy my artwork and go home with something. Absolutely. This is fantastic. So we’re here at Gabriel’s Café and Grille.
The first question I have for you, were you always in the restaurant business? Yes, all my life. Where I come from in Italy
I was born into the restaurant business. How did you find Wellington? How did you get
here? One day we decided to come down and visit
and six months later I was here, there was a little café for sale. I bought it and from
1990 I’m here. Ninety percent of our customers they’re my friends. Sure they know you. They’re regular. Do they call you Gabriel or Gabrielle? Gabriel Everyone calls you Gabriel. Or Gabe I’m gonna call you Gabrielle. If I’m in town and I’m coming to Gabriel’s
what’s the signature dish? That’s the Gabriel’s Salad. You’re talking my language already. My wife she named that salad. But I put it
under Gabriel. You named it the Gabriel because you were
like this is all stuff I like. That was great! That’s the strawberry banana Nutella crepes. I grew up eating Nutella every morning, true
story. Mmm, very good! So it’s interesting that an Italian such as yourself would tell
me to have the Cuban. When I see an item that looks good, sounds
good. I try it. We say that we make better Cubans subs than any Cuban in Miami. Yeah. Maybe I’ll come in as a guest chef one day. Sure. We can add a little premium on the food. A
pleasure. All mine. Appreciate it. Come on over and check out Gabriel’s Café
and Grille guys. Only in South Florida would this be considered
a winter sport. As you can see behind me we are here at the International Polo Club in
Wellington, here to find out what the glitterati do on their pass time on a Sunday afternoon.
Do you have good seats? All the way at the top. Oh, big shot, you got the box seats, that’s
nice. Yeah, do you really like polo? I love polo. Do you like polo the game or do you like the
guys who play polo or do you like the atmosphere? All of the above. Okay. Our fundamental view was lets create an environment
that’s a great family environment with a lot of free entertainment. There’s a great
passion for horses. And the business we’re in, isn’t polo it’s really horses. Wellington,
it’s great it’s something we call the equestrian lifestyle destination. Friday nights
it’s dressage. Saturday nights its show jumping and Sundays its polo. Polo, show jumping
and dressage contribute over $200 million dollars of economic impact to Palm Beach County
and it has really turned into sort of the place to go in the winter for horse sports. So what usually happens around half-time during
in the game is that we get to come out and do a little “Pretty Woman” we get to stomp
the divots. I was told that we were going to be stomping things. We want the people to come out and sort of
stomp those divots back into the ground. Right, but nobody’s stomping! They’re
just eating ice cream and drinking champagne. They usually do that in the beginning as they’re
walking out for that. I didn’t see anybody stomping! There’s a divot example there. All right, there’s an actual divot. That’s
a deep one. Do you want to give us a hand sir? Work the divot, work the divot, come
on, what are you out here? You come out here just to get a drink? This is what we’re
supposed to be doing out here, did you know that? I know, I’ve done a couple of them. You
did them? I’ve done my share. Thank you for participating. Polo Match Announcer: … leads by one… You are the golden voice of the polo, the
International Polo Club. No, I started in this sport myself as a player
in the sixties and we had a real major growth. And now we’re starting to grow again and
we’re trying to really build more awareness of the sport. You get to do this on the weekends? Life is
good for you. It sure is. Any time you can work at what
you love. For your entire career! Yeah, it’s great. You guys won, congratulations, Coca-Cola Team.
How long does it take for you to become this good at this sport? I started playing when I was 9. I moved here
from Nicaragua when I was 7. My father played in Nicaragua and then we came here. We lived
in Wellington. That’s when Palm Beach Polo had just opened in 1979. Sure. So I was fortunate enough to grow up at the
capitol of polo in the United States. That’s incredible. I have no chance at becoming
good at this sport? Right, you have to start young? Be honest. Right? Cause I couldn’t
start now. Not, yeah, you won’t become a pro. I mean,
you can, you can become… My hopes and dreams have just been shattered. Mayor Anne Gerwig: We’re so proud to show
off the Winter Equestrian Festival and for three months of the year we are the Winter
Equestrian Capitol of the World with the best of sport horses, show jumping, dressage, and
polo. So we’re here with the organizers and creators
of the Wycliffe Stiffs Stickball League here in Wellington. This is Marty, that’s Harry.
Tell me how did this get started? So what we did is we created a field. And when you say field, it’s concrete. Concrete, yes. We have stadium seating, ice
water, and we have 17 or 18 players on a team. And we come out here every Tuesday. But let
me tell you with the tools of this little ball and the bats and this field and the help
of the Parks and Recreation of Wellington we have generated excitement, interest and
we have brought people onto this field whether to play or to sit in the stands, to share
old stories to schmooze to tell old tales, to meet new people. Talk about this game here. The rules? Tell
me the rules. Is it like baseball. I can’t slide on concrete. Well we created our rules to modify for an
age group of 45 to 90. Okay. We have a 12 page rule book. In fact, of the
12 pages 11-1/2 pages are because of one guy, who keeps trying to stretch the rules. That guy! So we have to have 11-1/2 pages… Does he still play here? Yes he does. Ah man. Are we giving them the name? Are we
naming him? Are we calling him out? Oh yeah. Give him the name. Marvin Serota from Brooklyn. Marvin Serota, 11-1/2 pages for you, Marvin?
Come on? Okay. So you have to understand, we do not
have any umpires. Honor System. As when we were kids we settled our differences
in other ways. Well you got sticks in your hands. What else
do you need? So you settle all your own disagreements. Lets, can I play a little bit? Sure. By all means. Lets go. Whoa, Frank! Give him a hand. That’s a double!
That’s a double. So we’re here with Bruce Delaney the Director
of the Wellington Parks and Recreation. Now you are the one responsible for all of the
fun that’s being had behind us here? Yes, I’m going to take credit for that! Take credit for everything that you can my
friend. Absolutely. What’s Parks and Rec for you? Parks and recreation is a wide-range of activities
that we have here in Wellington. We have our Amphitheatre here, we have Scott’s Place,
we have a Community Center, we have an Aquatic Center, we have a 93 acre athletics facility,
we have a girls softball facility, we have a dog park. Wow. We have pretty much anything that you might
be interested here in the Village of Wellington. So you’re kind of like Mr. Fun then? Right,
you’re like, you’re the guy that say if I want to have fun in Wellington, I got to
come and see Bruce? That’s exactly right! That’s right. So we are here with Del and Barbara Williamson.
We are in a park that I have now talked to numerous people and they say that this is
sort of the center of their world on a weekly basis. We hope so. So tell me a little bit about how this came
about for you. I saw a TV program in Atlanta about a mother
who had a pretty good sized special needs son in a wheelchair and she was trying to
get the town council to put in a boundary-less park. And we wanted to see if we could do
something like that. So the park is called Scott’s Place. Where
does that come from? Well many years ago, we had twin boys and
one of them only lived about 7 days and the other one lived 6 years and his name was Scott.
When we got together with Liz Benacquisto and some of the town fathers they asked us
what we’d like to call the park and we said, “Scott’s Place.” Well that’s an amazing, I mean having that
experience in your life and obviously and turning that into something where you’re
giving back to the community that’s a really amazing thing. We’re hoping that this helps our community. Passing it forward. You bet. That’s fantastic. Here at the Florida Rowing Center with Gordon
Hamilton. You’re the head coach here, right? Yes. It’s really the only rowing center
that’s operating in the winter. We run three and four day sessions. The international racing
distance is 2000 meters. This lake is almost exactly 2000 meters. Oh wow. You know its beautiful, the surroundings.
There’s every kind of bird you want to see. Now they don’t call it rowing. They call
it? Well this is sculling. Sculling is when each
individual athlete has two oars. The technique seems very like, every movement;
it’s like a gold swing. It’s more than that. It’s a golf swing
on water. This looks easy but it’s kind of a pat your
head, rub your tummy kind of a thing. So there’s a reason for every movement that
you make. And every movement you make has an impact on how the boat moves. It’s very,
very refined. But we have levels from people who have never been in the water. That’s me, there you go. That’s where
I want to be, down there. Up to the first class racing shells. ‘Cause I’m a city boy. I don’t do a
lot of, you know I don’t do a lot of water. I know you’re going to enjoy it. Of course I will. I’ve never rowed, so this should be, this
should be interesting. I’m in the boat and I haven’t tipped over. Okay, now send them away. Put your knees flat
down. Lets make that oar square. Wait, wait wait wait. Lay ‘em flat on the water and
take your stroke. Gentle. Keep breathing. All right. That’s it. Now we’re cooking. Were you watching me perform? I think all
throughout here I got a nice pectoral workout. I think. My lats were engaged. My back was
straight. I hope you guys caught all of that on camera. Down the Street just a ways from Wellington
you’ll find the Glades, a group of small towns along the Southeastern shore of Lake
Okeechobee where the pace of life is just a little bit slower. Belle Glade, Pahokee
and South Bay make up the agriculturally rich Glades region. And it boasts one of the state’s
best eco-adventures hiking the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail along the Herbert Hoover Dyke.
You can hike it, bike it or even roller blade along the 100 mile trail while taking in some
of the most serene and beautiful views of Lake Okeechobee. You can camp, or get out
on the Lake for fishing, water skiing and more at Belle Glade’s Torry Island Campground
and Marina. Be sure to check out the swing bridge at Torry Island – it’s the oldest
swing draw bridge in Florida and it has to be hand-cranked. In Pahokee you can pull your
RV right up to Lake Okeechobee at the Pahokee Marina and Campground and enjoy stunning unobstructed
sunsets. And if you’re in the need of a spot of culture check out the latest dance,
music and theatrical performances at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center on the Palm Beach
State College Glades Campus. Now, let’s head back to Wellington. We’re in the middle of the Aero Club here.
It is actually a flying community. I don’t think many people would know it was here,
it’s kind of tucked away but it’s in the middle of town. It’s fantastic. I mean we have a 4000 foot
runway which was paved in the last few years. There are 245 homes roughly. Eighty to 90
have hangers. Right. And by the way, this hanger is pristine!
Are you the Rebel or was the plane the Rebel? Yes. Both? I was told this has some guns on it. Yes, they’re in the wings. It took us three
years to restore it. I do about maybe six air shows a year. It’s a great lifestyle.
Everybody has one common thing and that of course is the love of flying. They want to
live in a community where they can commute to work. We have people here that commute
to work in helicopters and their planes. Wow. Most people have a golf cart and an airplane. Yeah, we saw a lot of that. So we do a lot of golf carting, just to run
up and down in your golfcart on all of the taxiways and see the open hangers and see
who is working on what. As you said, the runway is right there. They want to come here with their plane and
live the life. You can come out of your house and get in your plane. You might want to go
to Key West for lunch. Yes, I might. Go to Naples for dinner, you know. Sure! Such a unique thing that most people
don’t really know about. And its in the middle of town. Yep. There’s a runway. Yeah. What brought you to Aero Club? Well I was looking for a place to hanger my
airplane and to buy a hanger and I found a hanger but it had a house next to it. Oh it had a house attached to it. And you
were just like you know what, I might as well keep the house too. It’s a great design
too. You want to show me the plane? I want to show you the plane. Let’s do it. You first. All right. So this is like a glorified video
game I’m playing here. That’s what it is! How many hours of flight in your life do you
think you have? Close to 4,000. 4,000? I’ve been flying 59 years. So when I need a ride I should come to you. Definitely. Yeah, I’d be happy to give you one. Cause you are the one. So we find ourselves at Gandhi’s Restaurant
here in Wellington, an Indian restaurant. This, this is what I walked in to here. This
is like, do you have an art director that does this for you? Because this looks like
a piece of art. Indian food is all full of flavors. Nice different
sauces, different colors. This is your first restaurant, correct? This is our first restaurant. We love food.
We’re foodies. And we love people. So we decided that it would be a great combination
to open up a restaurant and reintroduce Indian cuisine back into society because it is full
of beautiful spices and flavors. Look at the food, the way its presentation,
look at the colors… Oh I am Raj, I am looking at it. Why do you
pick Wellington? We lived in Wellington for almost 10 to 12
years. Beautiful town, beautiful people. Great community. People sincerely know when you care about
them and you care about their dining experience. I feel like you care for me. I do. Just because, right? We do! Wow. Yes! That was really sincere, you went for it! It is! That’s what our statement says, Gandhi’s
where food and people matter. This is very authentic Indian style. It’s called thali.
It’s a chicken tikka masala, a very classic dish.
  Now I’ve had that before, so this is a good
This is really good. And this is a lamb rogan josh. And this is more like vegetable korma. All right. Let’s see what’s going on here
first. Oh yeah. Good stuff. During the winter time. Wellington’s population
increases substantially, not only do the horses come to town, but so do the riders. And I’m
very very privileged today to speaking to Ali Brock, Bronze Medal winner at the recent
Olympics. Team Bronze. Team Bronze. Pretty cool. Pretty cool right
there. For me it was very, very surreal. It still
is surreal when I look at the photos and stuff. Of course. I mean it’s your whole life dedicated
to this and you get to arguably the biggest stage in the world. Yes, absolutely. I think I would be so nervous that I don’t
think I could even function. We’re not allowed to do that! Yeah, well of course. You’ve got a lot on
the line. We were there to do a job. Now, the horse’s name? Roosevelt. Roosevelt. Yes. He knew he was at a major, major championship
and that he had to deliver. He’s agreeing with you. Dressage, where does that come from? What
does the name mean? Dressage is from the French word to dress
the horse. And its about gymnastically developing the horse to being a top level athlete doing
certain movements that were useful on the battlefield at one point. And you end up with
this extremely obedient top dancer. They have to be a superb athlete. They can’t be susceptible
to injury. They have to be a bit tough. On top of that they have to be very emotionally
stable. They trust their rider and the rider is able to create like a bond with them so
that they the horse has the trust to actually go into the arena and do what they are asking, I imagine you probably care for him more than
anybody. More than myself. Yeah, right, you have to. That’s incredible.
So why Wellington? What is it? Well look at the weather? Right. It’s easy for us to compete every week if
we want to. I arrived on the scene in 2001. We’ve seen massive growth in the past 15
years. Between the dressage riders, the show jumpers and the polo players. When you hang out do you guys like talk shop?
That’s what you talk about. That’s all horse people talk about! You spend half of your year here and it’s
got to be pretty hectic, right while you’re here during that time? It’s pretty hectic right now. Tell me a little about the Winter Equestrian
Festival. Well there’s two horse shows going on. You
have the hunter-jumper. And you have the global dressage festival that’s just down the street. And you have people from all over the world,
that come? All over the world, yeah. If you’re an American
rider you have to be here for the wintertime. It’s the most competitive spot to be in
the country. And we still have a lot of Europeans coming over as well especially to compete
in the show jumping and then also South Americans and Central Americans coming as well. So it
becomes this hot spot. As you can tell from our visit to Wellington,
it’s a horse lovers dream. It’s where the rich go to play and the horses rule all day.
Whether you’re exploring by boat, by vintage aircraft or by horse, Wellington has plenty
to do. We hope you enjoyed discovering Wellington and that you’ll join us the next time we go
On the Town. This program is brought to you by Discover
The Palm Beaches. Visit ThePalmBeaches.com for more information.

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