FORT RILEY, Kan - With the snip of over-sized scissors, the new Post Exchange officially opened for business at 9:24 a.m. Feb. 13.

The ceremony began with the playing of the national anthem by members of the 1st Infantry Division Band and an invocation by Chap. (Col.) Gary Norris.

"There's just so many great things about the new PX," said Col. Ricky Gibbs, 1st Inf. Div. chief of staff during his opening day remarks, "I don't have time to talk about them all,"

"Thank you to all of those who are customers," said Maj. Gen. Keith Thurgood, commander of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

In honor of the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer, Staff Sgt. Emilio Granados and his Family cut the ribbon to the new store along with Thurgood; Gibbs; Stan Young, AAFES general manager on post; and Edward Bouley, AAFES senior vice president.

Customers began flowing into the store, walking through shiny new aisles and paying for carts full of merchandise at new registers.

To celebrate the opening, many stores and organizations were giving away free merchandise. Among other giveaways, Stylique Salon and Spa gave away a gift basket valued at $250, and Petals and Blooms gave away two bunches of a dozen long-stemmed roses.

Outside the PX, a World War II halftrack was on display, the K-9 team gave a demonstration, and the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard and 1st Inf. Div. Band were on hand for the festivities.

Activities scheduled in the afternoon included Kansas State University mascot Willie the Wildcat and the K-State cheerleaders, along with Drug Awareness Resistance Education officers and their popular Ident-a-Kid program.

The celebration continued through the weekend, with Melissa Seligman signing her book, "The Day After He Left for Iraq" on Feb. 14 and the fire department the day after, among other events.

In addition to offering customers more floor space and new stores, the new PX also is a greener building. Features such as a no-maintenance floor, LED lights in display cases, and other energy efficient measures are expected to save Fort Riley approximately $50,000 a year. Another structural change is the domed ceiling, which is designed to give the new facility a more open feeling than its predecessor.

Floor space has been increased to about 120,000 square feet. Percentage wise, all departments have been expanded by at least 33 percent, with the electronics area showing the biggest increase at 400 percent.

New stores for military personnel and Family members to shop at include Kansas Collection, a day spa, GameStop and Starbucks. Changes in the AAFES store itself includes several new areas, such as an area for Power Zone Technicians, who can fix electronics, and a gun counter that sells rifles, pistols and ammunition.

Although the new store is now the main PX on post, the old store will still house a food court, troop store, an expanded Class Six and several other stores, such as the barber shop.