Kroc Center opens in Mississippi


Olympic swimmer Neil Walker held a swim clinic at the Biloxi Kroc Center for the children of charter members. Photo by Meghan Calhoun

By Meghan Calhoun

Sept. 19 marked a major milestone for The Salvation Army in Biloxi, Miss., as the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center opened in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The $22 million state-of-the-art recreation, fitness and creative arts community center will greatly enhance the Army’s service and outreach to the community.

“This is a place where dreams will begin, be nurtured and be realized,” said Major Terry Ray, area commander and Kroc Center administrator. “Everyone in the community will be encouraged to dream big and foundations will be laid through the programs and staff for those dreams to come true.”

At the open house Sept. 17, over 1,500 visitors met Olympic swimmer Neil Walker, greeted the NBA Hornet cheerleaders—the Honeybees—had free food and drinks, and enjoyed face painting, arts and crafts, and membership incentives.

The official ribbon cutting and service of dedication Sept. 18 included the Lt. Governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, and Congressman Steven Palazzo. Over 300 guests were on hand to officially welcome the Kroc Center to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The Kroc Center includes a chapel/performing arts center with state of the art audio/visual capabilities, full-sized gymnasium for indoor recreation sports, weight and exercise rooms, dance and aerobic studio, locker rooms, fellowship/banquet hall, classrooms and meeting rooms, and art and music studios. It also has an indoor aquatics center with zero degree entry, lap pool for lessons, exercise and sports programs and a two-story water slide, splash pad, lazy river and hydrotherapy bench. The outdoor recreation area will include a stadium complex with a full athletic field, 1/4 mile track, spectator stands and a concession/press box/bathroom building.

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