A Guide to the City of Katy, Texas
By Joan Whetzel
Katy, Texas was plotted and laid out in 1895 and, according to local legend, obtained its name from the MKT (K-T) Railroad that ran through the areas. It has become, in recent decades, a suburb of Houston, due to the rapid growth of the State’s largest city while still maintaining it “family community” feel. Katy played an major role in the railroad industry in southeast Texas, has been a center for rice farming, and is home to one of the largest gas fields in southeast Texas. Katy is located West of Houston and covers the junction of Harris, Waller, and Fort Bend Counties.
Katy’s Railroad History
Katy and the Katy Heritage Society pay homage to their part in the railroad industry in Texas with the MKT Depot and Caboose which are operated as a mini-railroad museum. The museum, caboose and visitors center are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. It is located at 5615 First Street.
Police and Fire Department
The Katy Fire Department and Police Department provide protection to the businesses, residents and visitors of Katy. Though the City of Katy works on a strict budget, the Police and Fire Departments make up additional funds to keep their equipment and services up to date through fundraising activities. The Fire Department has an annual dinner held in mid-October that includes a raffle. The Police Department holds its annual fish fry and raffle in mid-April.
The Katy Branch of the Harris County Library System5414 Franz Road 281-391-3509
The Katy Library has access to the entire library systems book collections and services making it comparable to most larger libraries. Services include computers for patrons’ use, wifi for anyone visiting the library, computer classes, a children's reading hour, and adult classes (i.e. crochet, reading, book clubs). Besides books, patrons with a library card can check out VHS tapes, DVDs, CDs, and online books. The card catalog is entirely online and includes the resources for the entire library system.
Katy’s schools run under the administration of the Katy Independent School District which is one of the State’s premier school districts. The school district provides education for more than 62,000 students, hiring nearly 4,000 teachers to serve for 53 schools, which includes 6 high schools.
Festivals and Events
In addition to the dinner fundraisers held by the Fire and Police Departments, the City of Katy has a few other festivals that draw good size crowds.
· The Folk Life Festival: This festival is held at the Kenneth D. Welch Outdoor Learning Center every April. The 34.5 acre site includes a caretaker’s cottage, barn and barnyard, duck pond, creek, nature trails, and a building containing museums and classrooms for history and science studies. The Festival celebrates the prairie life that marked the beginnings of Katy from its inception more than 100 years ago.· The Katy ISD FFA Livestock Show & Rodeo: This is a 3 day event that attracts professional rodeo people in the country as well as crowds to take watch the parade and visit the livestock show. The livestock show provides an opportunity for the agriculture students from Katy’s 6 high schools to exhibit and possibly sell their animals. · Breakfast with the Easter Bunny is held every March for young families. · Paws in the Park invites families to bring their dogs to the Katy Dog Park Easter egg hunt. This is also held in March each year. · The Katy Freedom Festival is held every July 4 and includes a grand fireworks display at the Katy Mills Mall. The fireworks show begins about 9pm, or as soon as its dark enough. · The Katy Rice Harvest Festival is the biggest attraction for the City of Katy. A 2-day must-go event, the Rice Harvest Festival includes craft booths, 2 carnivals (one for the small kids and one for the whole family), live music, and food. The festival commemorates the City’s rice farming heritage. · Katy’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is held every November and includes the lighting of the City Christmas tree, a visit from old St. Nick himself, activities for the kids, and other activities like ornament making, and writing letters to Santa, as well as entertainment from some of the local choirs and dance teams.
TheCity of Katy has several Parks
· The Mary Jo Peckham Park at 5597 Gardenia Lane
· The City of Katy Dog Park, 5414 Franz Road
· Katy City Park, 5720 Franz Road
· Thomas Park on Fourth Street
· Katy Heritage Park and Historical Area, 5990 George Bush Drive
Park and Ride
Getting into Houston is as easy as mass transit. Take a Metro Bus from one of three convenient Park and Ride center rather than drive. Kingsland Park and Ride (route 2210 is located at 21669 Kinglsand Blvd. Grand Parkway Park and Ride (route 222) is located in the Cinemark parking lot at Grand Parkway and I-10. The Highway 6 Park and Ride is Located just off Highway 6 North of I-10.
Katy is easily accessible to 2 private airports. The West Houston Airport and the Houston Executive Airport.
Katy Mills MallFor those looking for shopping, there’s the Katy Mills Mall, located at 5000 Katy Mills Circle, which is on I-10, about 25 miles west of downtown Houston. It contains many retail stores, a food court and a 20 screen movie theater operated by AMC. There are several major chain restaurants in the parking lot circling the mall building as well.
Katy has 2 cemeteries. The Katy Community Cemetery has recently attained “Historical Cemetery” status. The Katy Historical Society, in conjunction with the Antioch Baptist Church are working to get all the graves marked, as some of the graves have no makers, and the location of many of the graves known to exist in the cemetery are unknown. Katy Magnolia Cemetery is a private owned cemetery that, although it claims the burial sites of many of the City’s founding fathers, is still a working cemetery.
Katy Visual and Performing ArtsThe Katy Visual and Performing Arts center teaches production and acting classes, and provides performances by the Adult Community Theater Encore Players. They also teach after school and summer art classes for students and Scout troops.
Whether you're looking for a place to live or just coming for a visit, Katy offers that small, close community feel with all the amenities of a major city - its closest neighbor, Houston. .
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