Vanilla Ice defends appearance at maskless New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago

Wellington rapper says criticized event 'not about politics at all'
Vanilla Ice performs in 2014
Posted at 3:43 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 15:43:35-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Vanilla Ice was among those who celebrated the new year at President Donald Trump's Palm Beach club.

Robert Van Winkle, who is better known by his stage name Vanilla Ice, performed Thursday night at the annual New Year's Eve party at the Mar-a-Lago Club.

Donald Trump Jr. shared a public video on his Facebook page that showed the 53-year-old Wellington rapper performing his 1989 hit song "Ice Ice Baby" and a cover of Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" on stage.

"Ok this is amazing," Trump Jr. wrote. "Vanilla Ice is playing the Mar-a-Lago New Years Eve party. As a child of the 90s you can't fathom how awesome that is. Beyond that I got the birthday shoutout so that's pretty amazing."

The video shows Trump Jr. and a mostly maskless crowd crammed together near the stage.

State Rep. Omari Hardy, D-West Palm Beach, sent a letter Friday to Assistant County Administrator Todd Bonlarron asking that Mar-a-Lago be fined and closed for violating Palm Beach County's mask mandate.

Hardy said the New Year's Eve bash "has the potential to be a super-spreader event."

Van Winkle was widely criticized on social media for taking part in the festivities, but he defended his appearance in a statement, calling it "awesome."

RELATED: Lawyer to Palm Beach: Tell Trump he can't live at Mar-a-Lago

"We danced. We celebrated. We had a great time," he said. "It was a very classy event at a beautiful Palm Beach landmark."

He also said everyone in attendance had been cleared after taking COVID-19 tests prior to the event.

"I think everyone just wants to get out and dance and have fun," he said. "We've all been marinating, trapped in our houses. It's not about politics at all. This is about dancing and enjoying New Year's."

The president and first lady Melania Trump were not in attendance. Although they were initially believed to be staying in Palm Beach through the new year, they decided to return to Washington earlier Thursday.