Celebrating 50 years, Fox Lake’s Leisure Village hosts prom for seniors

Active community for those 55 and older formed homeowners association in 1973

Diane Crockett and Betty Flint (in front) get their photo taken with Karen Morris, Chris Swientek and Darlene Peterson (in back) during the Senior Prom to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Leisure Village in Fox Lake.

FOX LAKE – Like any prom, a recent dance in Fox Lake featured music, dancing and the crowning of a king and queen.

The seniors in attendance at this prom, however, were ages 55 and older.

“It was one of the best parties we ever had,” said 81-year-old Jackie Wirtz, who moved into Leisure Village in Fox Lake almost 24 years ago.

Described as an active community for those ages 55 and older, Leisure Village celebrated its 50th anniversary with its Senior Prom on March 24. Located on 100 acres north of Grass Lake Road and west of Hickory Street in Fox Lake, the community houses 360 attached homes.

The resort-like area features a swimming pool, golf course, lake, pickleball courts, picnic grounds and a recreation center. The village’s resident-elected board of managers, or homeowners association, originally formed in March 1973. Lake County officials recently recognized the anniversary with a proclamation and plaque.

Running as director for the board, Toni Galster vowed to host a 50th celebration if elected. She won the spot.

“I’ve always wanted to have a senior prom,” said Galster, who had been going to Leisure Village since the 1990s, when her father lived in the community.

Upon his death, she inherited his home. She moved from Johnsburg into the community in 2020.

Formerly a special event coordinator in Antioch, Galster rallied friends and fellow Leisure Village residents to help plan the prom.

“Someone mentioned, ‘Let’s do it in the ’70s theme,’ " she said. “I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, now we’re talking.’ "

With 141 tickets sold, the prom featured themed decorations and flowers, dinner, a cake and music. A video depicted photos of Leisure Village and its residents through the decades.

Those in attendance were asked to either dress in theme, dress up or simply just show up.

“The only thing I require is no pajamas,” said Galster, who wore a long evening gown.

The event was one of many regularly hosted at Leisure Village, residents said. The community is not designed for residents who can no longer live independently and is not an assisted living development. It offers ranch condominiums with maintenance provided.

“There’s always something you can do or go to here,” said Marion Pruitt, who moved back to Leisure Village several years ago after previously living there for about seven years.

Along with daily activities such as exercise classes, art, sewing, quilting and games, the community includes a 14-passenger bus that takes residents to social events and on shopping trips. The community also has walking paths and a lake for fishing.

“There’s a lot to do here,” said Wirtz, who moved to Leisure Village from Batavia to be closer to her grandchildren. “You can keep as active as you want … but the parties and the people are the big draw. Everybody is so friendly and caring. They care about their neighbors and watch for one another.”

For the prom, Wirtz wore a dress she originally planned to wear to a wedding she couldn’t attend in person because of the pandemic.

“I finally got to wear it, so I was happy with that,” she said.