Woodhaven couple gets summer surprise from ’90s rapper

Woodhaven couple gets summer surprise from ’90s rapper
Todd Plitt
By Steve Mosco

A young couple’s backyard is getting iced this summer — and they are thrilled.

Marlon and Michelle Pavon, of Woodhaven, bought a fixer-upper last year and have been overwhelmed by the monetary cost and physical demand of renovating the two-family home.

But help is on the way in the form of a 1990s rap star turned home renovator.

Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Rob Van Winkle, surprised the Pavons at their home July 23 and announced to the couple that they were chosen from thousands of submissions as the winners of the “Ice My House” contest and will appear on DIY Network’s “The Vanilla Ice Project.”

The couple will now receive the grand prize of a $30,000 backyard renovation.

“Winning this contest was a godsend,” said Marlon Pavon, a sales executive for Blue Cross Blue Shield. “It really was perfect timing. Words can’t describe how exciting it is for this opportunity to be placed in our lap.”

Marlon and Michelle purchased the house last year and have been so focused on fixing the interior that they had no plans to renovate the backyard until at least next year.

But now, DIY and Vanilla Ice’s team of contractors will begin work sometime in late August and need about 10 days to upgrade the yard with an outdoor kitchen, a pool and a gazebo.

The network had asked the couple to write and submit a $30,000 “wish list” for their backyard. Now the Pavons will hand over the reins and wait for the network to replace shrubs and piled-up junk with high-end backyard amenities.

“This is removing so much stress from our lives,” said Michelle, a CPA. “’We didn’t realize how many decisions have to be made when you buy a home. And it’s not just money — we’re not going to have to do any of the labor involved here and that is such a huge help.”

The Pavons know the physical cost of labor all too well. Just weeks before they won the contest, Marlon threw his back out renovating and has since been unable to do any heavy lifting.

“It’s hard because now I’m like a general contractor, just telling people what to do,” he said. “It’s frustrating watching my family carry stuff out to the trash. I feel like I should be doing all of that stuff.”

Being surrounded by family in the neighborhood has helped the Pavons get a lot of the work done. Marlon’s mother lives across the street, his brother lives on the corner, aunts and uncles live down the block and cousins live around the corner.

Having their family in such close proximity is why the Pavons wanted a backyard suitable for entertaining large groups of people in a comfortable setting.

And thanks to a contest entry — and a rap star from Marlon’s childhood — that dream is on its way to coming true.

“We’re walking celebrities to our family now,” Marlon said. “Our family will reap the benefits of a new backyard. It’s not just for us, it’s for the entire family to come and enjoy. This gives us the opportunity to spend more time with the people we love.”

The Pavons’ episode of “The Vanilla Ice Project” is expected to air as the show’s season premiere in early 2013.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.