This year’s HPOU Family Picnic has so many new and exciting events and activities it’s a small wonder there are any tickets left – there are plenty! But the number of events and amount of fun continues to grow.
Picnic Committee Chairman Dan Levine said the venue will be the site of the start and finish of the Back the Blue 5K, which is set to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 at the picnic’s exciting new location – Oil Ranch in Hockley, off Highway 290 northwest of Houston.
“It’s great to have it before the Union picnic,” Levine said, adding that the one-mile Fun Run starts at 8:45 a.m. and is expected to draw many members of the younger crowd present for an entire day of activities.
This is the first year of the Back the Blue 5K, whose proceeds from entry fees and sponsorships will benefit the Houston Police Family Support Unit.
Levine said Union members and their families will have the entire 50-acre facility available throughout the entire day, beginning at 10 a.m. and lasting until 8 p.m. Free food and drinks will be provided throughout the day (adults will be charged for alcoholic beverages). In addition, concession stand will provide sno cones and popcorn in an endless supply.
Try these activities on for size in this exciting rural atmosphere:
- A petting zoo
- A lake for fishing (bring your pole and bait)
- A softball field (bring your mitts; bats and balls provided)
- A volleyball court (balls supplied)
- A basketball court (balls supplied)
- A soccer field (balls supplied)
- A train that goes a mile around the lake.
- A hayride that goes out to the pasture (watch out for the cows!)
- A miniature golf course
- An inflatable jumping pillow (the Kid Hopper)
- An Indian village with authentic hand-painted teepees
- A hand-led pony ride
- A lesson in milking a cow
- A number of small playgrounds for the smaller kids
- A special selection of farm animals inside the barn
- A group of historic displays spotlighting the history of Texas under six flags
- A horseshoe pit (actually more than one, all conveniently located)
Everything is outdoors. But this business that’s been in operation for 41 years has thought of everything, including indoor facilities in case of rain. On site are five large pavilions, the two larger ones each seating up to 600 people.
Oil Ranch spokeswoman Jackye Roberts easily predicted everyone will have tons of fun, saying, “The only things we don’t supply are baseball gloves. All activities are outdoors – it’s a true Texas experience. You don’t have to bring anything. We have pretty much everything you need.”
This family business has grown in stature since it opened in 1976. The train was acquired from Coney Island in New York. Other exhibits were designed to be as authentic as possible to enhance the education and pleasure of all visitors.
Levine pointed out that a retired HPD officer will serve as a disc jockey throughout the day.
He and Ms. Roberts also stressed that the new HPOU picnic venue is easy to get to – off Highway 290 and the Hegar exit. For GPS purposes, Roberts said the address is 23501 Macedonia Road.
Levine said bus transportation from the HPOU at 1600 State Street will be provided every hour on the hour beginning at 10 a.m. on event day. A shuttle will be available back and forth from Oil Ranch to the Union throughout the day and evening.
The planning of this exciting event – always billed as the HPOU’s most popular family-oriented event of the year – represented an effective rebound from last year when Hurricane Harvey forced the cancellation of the picnic, which was to be held at the Farm and Ranch Club on Abercrombie Drive outside Houston. The club was forced to shut down due to the Harvey flooding.
Planning for this year’s new location fell upon Levine and other Picnic Committee members: Tom Hayes, Luis Menendez-Sierra, Rob Sandoval, David Riggs, Christian Dorton and Alex Mayo.