Vanessa Welch is the evening anchor on Channel 9, and her husband Jason Brewer is the meteorologist on NBC’s Channel 2. While the pair might compete for news ratings during the day, during their off-time, they're teaming up to host charity events, playing tourist with their two young boys and preparing for their third on the way.
How long have you lived in Orlando?
Vanessa: We’ve lived here eight years. We never thought we’d be here this long, but now it’s home. We love the people. We love the community. We love the weather. And we love giving back to the community.
With your busy schedules, do you ever get to play tourist here?
Vanessa: One of our favorite things to do is to go to the local hotels and have a staycation. When we host charity events, we’ll make a weekend out of it. It’s one of the neatest things about living here. We love Norman’s at the Ritz and have had birthdays and anniversaries there. Bull and Bear is fun for special occasions. And we were blown away by the Four Seasons.
Jason: We feel so spoiled that we have these awesome resorts so close with such great service and food. And a lot of locals have annual passes to Disney. It pays for itself really quickly.
What are your favorite parks?
Jason: The Christmas season at SeaWorld is spectacular. The live shows, ice skating and performances—music everywhere. It’s beautiful how they decorate the park. The kids love Epcot and the Finding Nemo ride. You can also get a FastPass+ to see Mickey, Minnie and Goofy there.
Jason: At Universal, they have so many great rides for the older kids. We’ve had a ton of fun there as a couple and love going to CityWalk's karaoke bar.
What charity events are you hosting this year?
Vanessa: We have the Make a Wish Ball at the Waldorf Astoria in May—it’s their biggest fund-raiser of the year. The average wish is $7,000, and a whole family gets to go on the trip. For one week, the child forgets they are sick, and the whole year leading up to it, they are anticipating that trip, and the hope helps them get through. We feel really passionate about children who are battling illnesses and especially cancer. We’re also both involved with Runway for Hope for pediatric cancer. It’s always at the Rosen Shingle Creek and we’ll be participating in that again. Harris Rosen is a dear friend of mine and is so generous on how he gives back. He has a huge heart for philanthropy. And every year I host the Reindeer Run at SeaWorld at Christmas which has about 5,000 runners and benefits pediatric cancer.
Being in news, you're the first to hear about what's going on. What new developments are you most excited about?
Jason: Orlando is changing so much. The Orlando City Soccer stadium and the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center are world-class. We are experiencing some growing pains with the work on I-4, but we're becoming poised for growth in the future. The energy here is alive and well.
Vanessa: I just did a story with the two area mayors and their campaign to bring Fortune 500 companies here. We have Lake Nona, the medical city, and the second largest university in the country, UCF. We're much more than the theme parks. The campaign is called ‘Orlando, you don’t know the half of it.’ We will continue to grow, to create more jobs and higher wages. We are becoming a big city.
Jason, you know Orlando’s weather better than anyone. What can we expect for May and June?
May is a wonderful month in Central Florida because it’s very warm but the humidity hasn’t set in. You don’t have to worry about afternoon storms like June. June is the wettest month. We can get 2 to 4 inches in a hour or two. Afternoon storms can mean lightning—Florida is the lightning capital so you have to be careful. The afternoon showers are a good time to take a break—go take a nap with the kids—and then head back out and resume your plans. It’s a good break from the heat.
My Perfect Day
Each issue, we ask our featured guests in My Orlando to tell us what they like to do on their day off. Here is what Vanessa Welch and Jason Brewer had to say about spending their ideal day around Orlando.
Get a Run In
Vanessa: On Saturdays, I get up and go for a run with a bunch of girlfriends while Jason’s at home with the kids.
Vanessa: We love to take the kids to Park Avenue in Winter Park. We’ll grab something at BurgerFi for a picnic in Central Park. The boys get so excited when the Amtrak comes by at the station there. We might do a little bit of shopping and have ice cream on Park Avenue.
Out on the Water
Jason: We have a couple of friends who live on a lake and have a boat so we have this summer water lifestyle for half the year. Six months out of the year, you can ski on the lakes. A lot of locals also go to New Smyrna Beach. It’s popular and close.
Vanessa: We’ll put the boys down for a nap and get a sitter. We normally go to downtown and Winter Park which is close to where we live. We love Soco downtown and Boca, Prato and Paris Bistro in Winter Park. Ravenous Pig has been our favorite date night … since I’m pregnant I’ve been craving the burger and the truffle fries, but their fish special is also dynamite.
Jason: Ravenous Pig is farm to table, so the menu is very seasonal and constantly changes. I like to try new things so I’ll often say ‘bring me something with a great glass of wine and surprise me.’