Donna Kelce no stranger to Winter Park. Could Taylor Swift follow?
The mom of NFL stars Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce, who is dating Taylor Swift, nonchalantly promotes Winter Park on social media
Nov. 15, 2023
By Beth Kassab
Just two weeks ago, the world’s most famous mother — at least in terms of pop culture cachet — posed on the dock of the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour and gushed, “Thank you Captain Tom … We had a fantastic time!!!”
Donna Kelce’s Oct. 29 Instagram post quickly tallied more than 11,000 likes from her nearly 360,000 followers. It was at least her second time on the tour — she also posted a serene video through one of the Winter Park Chain of Lakes canals in 2020.
“My daughter pointed it out to me,” said Tom Smith, who has led boat tours for 14 years. “She saw it on Instagram and said, ‘Hey, Dad, you had someone pretty famous on your boat!'”
Smith said he’s a big football fan and, of course, knows who Travis Kelce is, but he said Donna Kelce was unassuming and content to blend in with the crowd while she was on the tour.
Kelce, whose recognition has soared since Taylor Swift first appeared in the family box at son Travis’ Kansas City Chiefs game in September, owns a condo in Baldwin Park — the Orlando neighborhood just south of Winter Park’s border. (Full disclosure: this writer is an unabashed Swiftie, lover of all the lyrical Eras and known to have traded a friendship bracelet or two.)
And while Kelce is just like any proud mom supporting her sons and causes that are important to her, she can’t help but also promote Central Florida along the way since she appears to call the region home when she’s not traveling.
Her local presence is now gaining off-the-charts attention — a photo of her attending a showing of Swift’s The Eras Tour Film over the weekend at a local theater went viral after Swiftie and local movie-goer Danielle Sparks posted the sighting on TikTok. Every outlet from People Magazine to Entertainment Tonight carried the photo.
Sparks told the Voice in a text message that she isn’t naming the theater where she spotted Kelce to protect her privacy. This writer and Central Florida native’s best guess based on the distinctive carpet in the background, is that it wasn’t the newly-renovated Regal in Winter Park Village, but the AMC at Altamonte Mall.
By Sunday, when the photo first appeared, the whole world was swooning over Swift’s lyric change on Saturday night while performing “Karma” in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Travis Kelce in attendance. Instead of “Karma is the guy on the screen … ” she sang, “Karma is the guy on the Chiefs coming straight home to me.” A video of Swift leaving the stage and running into Travis’ arms has been shared hundreds of thousands of times since the weekend.
Kelce didn’t post about seeing the film herself, though she did confirm to People that she saw it and thought it was “awesome.”
She has, though, posted other Central Florida locales — even if by accident.
Kelce appeared in a video for Kind Snacks posted to her Instagram in October in front of what locals immediately recognized as the University of Central Florida’s football stadium.
And six months ago, she filmed a video inside the Chico’s on Park Avenue in Winter Park ahead of Mother’s Day where she answered questions about her famous sons and her personal style that was posted to the brand’s YouTube channel. Kelce said in the video that some of her favorite wardrobe pieces are from the boutique.
Winter Parkers are used to the trappings of wealth and fame.
The Central Florida enclave nestled on a chain of lakes is studded with stunning homes belonging to entrepreneurs, real estate moguls and NBA players. And plenty of well-known names claim the address, like Poet Laureate Billy Collins, comedian Carrot Top and, for a time, soccer star Alex Morgan.
“Mama Kelce,” as she is affectionately known, was already scoring name recognition and deals with brands before Swift entered the picture. She famously wore a jersey that was half Philadelphia Eagles (Jason Kelce’s team) and half Kansas City Chiefs when the brothers faced each other in the Super Bowl earlier this year.
Her connection to Swift, though, arguably launches her into another stratosphere.
The masterful songwriter’s Eras Tour and recent album releases have smashed records, earning comparisons to The Beatles. Her “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” just became her 13th No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 (tying Drake), a tally surpassed only by Jay-Z with 14 No. 1 albums and The Beatles with 19, according to Billboard.
But even The Beatles — well, one of them — was a regular around Winter Park not long ago. Paul McCartney was spotted around town with some frequency before his stepson graduated from Rollins College in 2015.
Could it one day be Swift (not in the blue dress) on a boat tour?
“That would be super fun,” said Smith, the boat captain. “I would love to do it. I don’t know if I’d do it during the day … We have these trips at night, which are really fun, and that might be better for her.”