With more than 30 communities and thousands of residents who call it home, Horizon West continues to grow by the day.
Although there is so much new development in the area today, one of its first communities, Independence, is celebrating its 15-year anniversary this year.
The Independence community encompasses more than 1,300 acres and has frontage on both Lake Hancock and Lake Speer, with homes in between the lakes and conservation areas. As one of the first communities in the area to be fully built in 2004, Independence residents have had 15 years to build the level of community they have reached today.
On Saturday, March 30, the community kicked off its 15th-anniversary celebration with a party for all ages. Bounce houses, ice cream and cupcakes, contests, dance parties, a showing of the movie “Tangled” and a water-lantern celebration at dusk rounded off the evening. However, Lifestyle Director Tim Gesing said, the celebration will continue all year.
“We’re going to be offering throughout the year new events and enhancements to our existing offerings, whether it’s a new Wine Down Wednesday with different vendors coming in and doing wine tastings or a partnership with Orange County Parks and Recreation to bring in learning activities for our younger residents,” Gesing said.
Notable events the Independence community already enjoys throughout the year include a spring festival, splash bash and fireworks spectacular. And for the 15th anniversary, residents will notice new branding to celebrate, such as special banners throughout the community and celebratory logos and projections.
As the community’s lifestyle director, Gesing is responsible for overseeing all of the activities, events, fitness offerings and more. He also is in charge of ensuring the community offers the best resident experience possible.
“Just since I’ve been around, I’ve seen that growth of community, and the amount of residents getting involved has been awesome to see,” he said. “It’s not just families, it’s residents of all ages, and being able to bring everybody in is something we’ve been able to (do as we) grow the offerings of the community and reach out for partnerships with area businesses. It’s all thanks to our wonderful sponsors that we’ve been able to keep up with these events and add more offerings.”
Gesing moved to Independence 11 years ago and has served as the lifestyle director for four years.
“We have 2,000 families that call us home, and we’ve been really trying to capitalize on that and offer so many different events and offerings throughout the year,” he said. “I very much love to see how much it’s grown and how much it has to offer and take that sense of pride in it.
“I love to be the one leading all the amenities in the community, seeing 4,000 folks watching the fireworks show, being able to be part of that, having that sense of community and watching it grow and grow each year,” he said.
The community features two clubhouses, several swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, children’s play areas, nature and bicycle trails and more. Additionally, those who enter the community from Ficquette Road are treated to the grand entryway that showcases a 50-foot clock tower and 512-foot reflection pond.
“I think with Horizon West and as much as it’s grown in the last several years, since it broke ground in 2004 you need to make sure you’re able to differentiate yourself from other communities,” Gesing said. “We want everyone to know Independence as the place to live, and we have events for all walks of life.”