Trump to host New Year's Eve gala at Mar-a-Lago amid COVID pandemic. What we know
Update as of Dec. 31, 2020:
President Donald Trump is expected to return to Washington today — an unexpected change in plans that means he will miss the annual red-carpet New Year's Even party he has hosted at Mar-a-Lago for two decades, according to CNN.
Guests had already been told Trump would be in attendance, according to CNN. However, other Trumps may still attend. Donald Trump Jr. has been posting photos on Instagram of fishing trips with his children in the Intracoastal waterway.
President Trump plans to ring in 2021 — with style.
At home in Palm Beach since Dec. 23, Trump has been very busy indeed.
While Americans exchanged Christmas wishes for peace and goodwill, Trump spent the holiday shuttling between the Southern White House and his West Palm Beach golf club. In addition, he's also been busy preparing for Thursday night's New Year's Eve gala.
Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club, has hosted some of the most lavish and expensive New Year’s Eve parties in Palm Beach. Here’s a look back at the galas and what we know about this year's gala.
Now that's a party: Take a look at past New Year's Eve galas with the Trumps
How much are tickets?
It is not known how much tickets cost for Trump's 2020 gala.
Ticket prices have gone up every year since the president was elected. In 2018, members of the president's private club paid $650 for tickets, up from $600 in 2017 and $525 in 2016. Guests of Mar-a-Lago members were asked to pay $1,000 up from $750 in 2017 and $575 for guests in 2016.
Previous coverage by the Palm Beach Post show it cost $500 per ticket in 2005.
The Post reported that Mar-a-Lago Club charged $2,000 to ring in 2001 and fielded a crowd of 500.
How many people usually attend?
Attendance has fluctuated at the Trump New Year's Eve galas over the years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, it's unclear how many people will attend — or were invited — for the 2020 gala.
As of Dec. 28, Florida has reported almost 1.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 21,000 Florida resident deaths since the pandemic began.
In 2018, the president missed his New Year's Eve party because of the government shutdown. First Lady Melania Trump kept the tradition alive, hosting the party without her husband.
About 800 people attended the 2017 New Year's Eve party. Among those who also walked the red carpet were Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former baseball star Keith Hernandez, casino owner Steve Wynn and media personalities Lou Dobbs and Dr. Gina Loudon.
In 2013, 400 people attended the New Year's Eve festivities.
In 2008, 300 people attended.
In 2004, 700 people attended the New Year's Eve gala.
Who's attended in the past?
Trump's New Year's Eve galas have definitely been a star-studded affair. Hosted by Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, the president's children — Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka — and their significant others typically attend.
• Celebrity attendees have included Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
• In 2004, actress-singer Vanessa Williams ("Ugly Betty") performed there.
• The late Regis Philbin and his wife Joy Philbin attended the 2006 New Year’s Eve bash at Mar-a-Lago. Philbin was the longtime host of "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee." His producer, Michael Gelman and his wife, Laurie Gelman, also attended the 2006 party.
• Penny Lancaster-Stewart and Rod Stewart attended in 2012 and again in 2014 with Penny, Rod Stewart and Sally Lancaster.
• Woody Allen and Robert Kraft attended in 2013. That year's theme was "Moulin Rouge."
• Martha Stewart welcomed the New Year at Mar-a-Lago with Lisbeth Barron and Serena Williams in 2014.
• Lifestyle consultant Annelise Winter attended in 2013 (she was then Annelise Peterson) and 2014.
• Former CEO and chairman of NASCAR Brian France attended in 2016.
• Sylvester Stallone, who just closed on a Palm Beach property, attended in 2016.
• In 2017, those who walked the red carpet were Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former baseball star Keith Hernandez, casino owner Steve Wynn and media personalities Lou Dobbs and Dr. Gina Loudon.
• In 2003, KC and the Sunshine Band performed.
• In 2000, Gladys Knight provided the music, and guests went home with souvenir millennium champagne flutes.
What's been on the menu?
A lavish ball usually means a gourmet feast.
• On the 2017 New Year's Eve dinner menu? Maine lobster ravioli, sliced tenderloin, sea bass, “Trump Iceberg Wedge,” and for dessert, the traditional New Year’s Eve dish, baked Alaska.
• In 2016, guests dined on crab claws, caviar and champagne.
• In 2014, dinner included a wedge salad, truffle and ricotta ravioli, short ribs and sea bass with mashed taro root and baby carrots.
• The 2013 New Year's Eve dinner consisted of pear and spinach salad, ravioli with duck confit, beef tenderloin, and baked Alaska.
• In 2006, Trump held a Vegas-style bash complete with caviar, a seafood bar, a vodka slide, and four courses (including truffled ravioli, filet of beef and lobster) and, much later, a breakfast buffet.
• In 2003, the evening began with an al fresco cocktail reception and hors d’oeuvres stations set up on the terrace, including a raw bar and a sushi boat as big as a boat. Dinner featured winter greens with artichokes and duck breast, veal chop and jumbo grilled shrimp, cheese and onion tart, and a chocolate balthazar. Each table included a menu card printed on white chocolate.
• In 2000, guests dined on roasted pecan-crusted sea bass, grilled quail, fois gras, champagne sorbet, petite angus filet with Maytag Blue focaccia crust and venison medallions. This was the year of Y2K. Guests got to see a large 2000 ice sculpture that incorporated a martini luge.
Highlights from past NYE-Trump galas
• By New Year’s Eve 2015, Trump had announced his candidacy for president and participated in five debates. Trump, then live on FoxNews, led the New Year’s countdown.
• In 2010, according to the Palm Beach Daily News, Trump invited golfer Tiger Woods to the club’s New Year’s Eve party. Tiger, who at the time had not yet moved from the Orlando area to nearby Jupiter Island, was a no-show.
So Trump’s people did the next best thing. They hired Al Smith Jr., an Orlando Tiger impersonator.
“I didn’t hire him,” Trump said when asked if he didn’t worry he’d antagonize Woods after having been one of the only high-profile supporters of the golfer. “I’m not the party planner.” Trump pointed out there were real celebs at his shindig: Rocker Rod Stewart and TV host Regis Philbin.
Said Trump: “People came up to me to say that the Rod Stewart and Regis impersonators were great but that the Tiger guy was so-so. I don’t think they realized Rod and Regis were the real ones.”
• The Palm Beach Daily News reported that in 2007, Trump got the night off from being the center of attention.
Instead, it was all about his tablemate, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, who accepted congratulations, shook hands and posed for pictures. His team won every one of its regular season games that year. (They would eventually lose in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants).
• In 2005, the Palm Beach Daily News reported guests at the Mar-a-Lago Club’s New Year’s Eve celebration learned firsthand what has often been said about their host: Donald Trump loves to take credit for any project in which he’s involved.
Case in point — after dinner, Trump took the stage to address his more than 600 guests and said he wanted his very-pregnant wife Melania to stand up “so you can all see what I’ve done to her.”