President Trump skipped out on his Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve bash, but that didn’t stop hundreds of maskless guests from packing the ballroom and paying up to $1,000 for the privilege of seeing… Vanilla Ice.
Photos of the event posted on Instagram and Twitter also showed guests dancing, embracing, and eating together at the gala—which apparently flouted local COVID-19 guidelines. The black-tie event included high-profile Republicans such as Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Donald Trump Jr., and Kimberly Guilfoyle, Eric and Lara Trump, and Rudy Giuliani.
Don Jr. seemed particularly enthralled by a performance by 1990s rapper and accused domestic abuser Vanilla Ice.
“Ok this is amazing,” Don Jr. wrote in a Facebook post that included a video of the has-been singing his hit “Ice, Ice Baby” while guests huddled together dancing. “Vanilla Ice is playing [at] the Mar-a-Lago New Year's 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 Palm Beach Post reported that more than 500 guests had secured reservations to Trump’s annual New Year’s Eve bash, which began at 7 p.m. Mar-a-Lago, however, declined to provide comment to The Daily Beast about the gala’s COVID-19 guidelines or the number of attendees.
The president and first lady were both absent following their sudden return to the White House on Thursday afternoon. It is not known why Trump left Palm Beach before his New Year’s Eve party, even though guests were told the president would be in attendance, according to CNN.
Photos posted online show more than a dozen packed tables—making social distancing impossible—while other snapshots featured guests closely dancing. MyPilllow CEO Mike Lindell, Singer Taylor Dayne, and fashion designer Oscar Lopez, were among those seen. The 1970s band Berlin also performed at the event.
Judging by photos and videos, the party-goers violated Palm Beach County’s COVID-19 guidelines, which require facial coverings “inside all businesses and establishments.” To date, 21,672 people have died and 1.3 million more have been infected with the virus in Florida.
The Florida Department of Health and Palm Beach County Administrator’s office did not respond to inquiries from The Daily Beast about whether local orders were broken.
The glittering New Year’s Eve celebration at Trump’s resort is a long-standing tradition. In previous years, the celebration has reportedly been graced by such celebrities as Rod Stewart, Sylvester Stallone, and Woody Allen.
The last time the president missed his party was in 2018 during the government shutdown, when Melania Trump hosted without him.
Thursday’s celebration was quieter than in previous years, after Trump’s abrupt exit from the resort. The town of Palm Beach had also imposed a 1 a.m. curfew to limit New Year’s Eve festivities amid the pandemic.
“Goodbye 2020! It’s been… real,” guest Kimberly Benza, who works for the Trump family, posted on Instagram, alongside a photo hugging with Lara Trump.