Free and cheap events for a long weekend
With the long weekend ahead, you know you are looking for some family fun that will keep you and the kids happy. But who says you have to wait until Saturday to get the fun started? Check out these events that are sure to keep the whole family happy.
Story time comes alive at the free Book Time at Brooker Creek with a reading of “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” at the nature preserve's Environmental Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. The program, from 10:30-11:15 a.m. on Thursday (Aug. 28), also includes a craft, game or other hands-on activity related to the story. It's free but registration is required at (727) 453-6800. For more book reading fun, check out Wee-time at Weedon where Bonnie Worth’s book “Wish for a Fish” will be read. It’s free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. Wee Time at Weedon is also from 10:30-11:15 a.m. on Thursday at the Cultural and Natural History Center at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg.
Each Friday evening, St. Petersburg College hosts a free planetarium show at 7 and 8:15 p.m. The SPC Planetarium is on the second floor of the Natural Science building (Room 205) on the St. Petersburg/Gibbs campus at Fifth Avenue N and 69th Street. Admission and parking are free but children under 5 are not allowed in the planetarium. For information, call (727) 341-4320 or (727) 341-4306.
Kick off the long weekend on Friday with a little fun at the Kid's Party at the Beach, from 6-9 p.m. at the St. Pete Beach Community Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach. The party, for kids in grades 1-5, features swimming, pizza and gym games. Cost is $6.50 for each child, or $5 with a resident card. Registration is required by Thursday. And keep this one on your calendar. It’s held the last Friday of each month. Call (727) 363-9245 for more information.
Gather up the kids for the final Family Night at Fossil Park Pool, 6739 Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. The fun includes diving boards and cool water slides and games and prizes to break up the wet fun. Prices is $3 for adults and $2.50 for children 12 and younger. Hang out with your friends on Friday
If frogs don’t make you or your kids go “ewwwwwww,” then head out to the free Frog Listening Outing and Walk on Friday, Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. the Flatwoods Wilderness Park, 14302 Morris Bridge Road, Thonotosassa. You can learn to identify Florida native and non/native frogs and toads not only by their size, color, shape and behavior but especially by their songs and calls. Herpetologists will bring along some frogs plus teach the calls and songs before the walk. Bring flashlights and bug repellant. For info, e-mail Jo Anne Hartzler, chairwoman of the Tampa Audubon Society, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (813) 310-7676 with the names and number of attendees.
Florida Quarter Horse Association Labor Day Circuit Show classes are open to youth, novice and amateur riders ages 8 and older. Prizes will be awarded for each class. Admission and parking are free but there are entry fees and stall rental charges for participants. The show will be Friday through Monday (Aug. 29-Sept. 1) beginning at noon daily at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center at Florida State Fairgrounds, Interstate 4 at U.S. 301 N, Tampa. For more information, check out FQHA or call Peg Edmondson at (941) 484-4687.
If you're into cooling off indoors, then head over to the ISI Labor Day Classic Recreational Figure Skating Competition at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy
255 Forest Lakes Blvd. N, Oldsmar. The competition will feature 70 skaters ages 3 to 57, representing six Florida ice rinks. Check it out from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. For more info on the free event, call (813) 854-4010.
On Saturday, Pottery Barn Kids in Old Hyde Park in Tampa presents a summer sing-along with entertainment by Silly Sam the Music Man. PBK is pretty smart to get you in the store since they hope you will spend a little cashola. You can if you want because there is always really cute stuff in the store but the sing-along is free. Show times are 10 and 11 a.m.
What would the weekend be without a free movie at the Beach Theatre on St. Pete Beach? A Three Stooges film and a cartoon festival will be featured Saturday at 10 a.m. at the theater, 315 Corey Ave. For more information, call (727) 360-6697.
Finally, Gulfport cranks up its downtown with the annual GeckoFest (yes, the same little creature in the Geico commercials that we are all a little tired of). The family street festival and walking parade with a gecko theme celebrates Labor Day weekend and the end of summer. Live music on three stages, street performers and contests for hats, dogs and costumes plus lots of children's activities and a street dance will round out the fun. It all starts at noon Saturday and it's free. Is there a better way to end the summer?
No excuses –- get out of the house and have some fun.
-- Sherry Robinson and Sharon Kennedy Wynne
[Top three photos: Times files; GeckoFest photo by Emily Goodwin and Marlene Shaw]