The Croatian American Society Celebrates Opening of Long Awaited Cultural Center

Photo source: The Croatian American Society

In Belle Chasse, the Croatian American Society will be hosting the grand opening of its new cultural center on September 23. The members-only event, which begins at 7:00 p.m., will include a visit from Croatian President Zoran Milanovi?. President Milanovi?, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, parish officials, and Tony Cibilich, Croatian American Society president, will join the ceremonial ribbon cutting. At the same time, Archbishop Gregory Aymond will bless the new building. Members will also enjoy Croatian beer and music, and chargrilled oysters. 

Construction on the Croatian Cultural Center began in December 2021 and was completed in August. Located in the heart of Belle Chasse, near the ferry landing and Belle Chasse High School, plans for the Center have been a work in progress since just after Katrina. The Croatian American Society’s previous home was in Jesuit Bend; the Society funded the new building through fundraising and member fees. 

The result is a top-notch, $5.2 million, 9,000-square-foot facility with interior design by Lisa Farris, including a great hall, kitchen, bar, and outdoor pavilion.

Photo source: The Croatian American Society

“We spared no expense,” said Niko Tesvich, board member of the Croatian American Society. “We’re really excited about the facility. It came out amazingly! Our current president Tony Cibilich was responsible for working with Regal Construction to get it all built.”

The Croatian American Society was founded as the Louisiana Citizens for a Free Croatia in 1991 to provide relief and humanitarian efforts in Croatia as the country declared its independence from Yugoslavia. Once Croatia became a stable country, the Croatian American Society was formed, focusing more on Croatia’s cultural and historical impacts.

Tesvich said that the Center will be a symbol of the Croatian American Society’s work and will be where all events hosted by the organization will be held, most notably the Croatian Festival, which has become a spring highlight, and the Croatian dance, which is held in the winter. The Center will also offer language and cooking classes, sports-watching parties, dinners, and lunches, and coffee for members on Fridays. 

Tesvich explained, “It’s a place for us to get together and honor our heritage and culture and make new friends. There are a lot of people who have become members because they’re excited to be a part of it. In the past six to nine months, we’ve seen an increase in memberships, which has been awesome.”

Tesvich explained that anyone, regardless of background, is welcome to join the Croatian American Society, learn more about Croatian culture, and enjoy the activities that the Center has planned.

Photo source: The Croatian American Society

“Everyone is welcome,” he said. “We’re a group founded around Croatian culture, but there are Americans and Croatians alike at our events. We are a melting pot and we want to include anyone who is interested in what we’re doing.”

You can learn more about becoming a member of the Croatian-American Society here.

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