Free and cheap events for the week!
Trying to save money so you can hoard hurricane supplies? You can still get some entertainment for you and the kids. Here's our offerings this week of diversions, and some of them even cost less than the price of a piece of plywood:
Thursday's Book Time at Brooker Creek is a twice monthly event designed to introduce preschool children (ages 3-5) to the wonders of the natural world. The book is "Hungry Hoppers: Grasshoppers in Your Backyard" by Nancy Loewen, a fun and lighthearted look at grasshoppers, the most athletic of arthropods. The program, which runs from 10:30-11:15 a.m., 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. It's held at the Environmental Education Center at the Brooker Creek Preserve 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs.
Another one for nature lovers is Wee-time at Weedon. The staff at the Natural History Center at the Weedon Island Preserve in northeast St. Petersburg will read "Danny & Daisy: A Tale of a Dolphin Duo" by Suzanne Tate. Kids will learn about dolphins, biology, ecology, research and rehabilitation. This one is also free but requires advanced registration to save your spot at (727) 453-6500. It runs from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. on Thursday.
This one's just for the moms: A new Ladies Night Out on Corey starts Thursday in the downtown Corey area of St. Pete Beach. It runs from 5 to 10 p.m. and there will be wine (natch!) and food tastings, treats, door prizes, live music, a movie viewing of ''Charade'' at the Beach Theatre at 8 p.m., raffles. A portion of participating merchant purchases benefits CASA.
The Kid's Art Festival, held at the David L. Mason Children's Art Museum
1143 Michigan Blvd. in Dunedin, includes a big range of fun diversions on Saturday. There will be outdoor activities, music, games, and the ever-popular Paint-A-Car, where kids get to paint their designs on a real ride. Then head into the museum to see the new dream-related hands-on kid's exhibit. A $3 suggested donation is requested for the festival and museum admission is free. It runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is sponsored by the Dunedin Fine Art Center.
Support scholarships by attending the Act 1ne Summer Concert Series at the Galaxy Center for the Arts, 8045 46th Ave. N St. in Petersburg on Sunday. Multi-lingual vocalist Jean Paul Reymont performs and the money raised goes toward kids in grades K-12 whose families have difficulty affording music lessons or other performing arts related classes. The show starts at 2 p.m. and admission is $5.
The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club has been around for a long time and it needs a little sprucing up. So this weekend, there's a cleaning party to whip it back into shape. First, though, check out the free Friday night St. Pete Shuffle crowd that plays shuffleboard from 7 to 11 p.m. with a good music mix playing over the sound system. The kids love it. Then on Saturday, give back at the Scrub the Club gathering from 9 a.m. to noon at the club, 559 Mirror Lake Drive N, St. Petersburg. It's is all about getting together and making the club look good again. Free cold drinks will be provided to all those who help. Plus, bring a dish to eat because there'll be a potluck after all the cleaning is done.
See the monkeys and let your little monkey play when Lowry Park Zoo hosts the Fisher-Price Play Weekend from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Fisher-Price will set up a super-sized playpen filled with new toys from Fisher-Price like the Diego Rescue Railway, Spike the Ultra Dinosaur and the Loving Family Grand Dollhouse. Special treats include a Power Wheels driving track and a Color Me Gemz vanity station for kids to design a heart necklace to take home. New Planet Heroes friends, “Ace” from Planet Earth and “Digger” from Planet Mars will also visit, as will Diego, of Nick Jr.'s "Go Diego Go". Fisher-Price says this event is ideal for kids 6 and under. A gift bag with activity booklet and a DVD will be given to each child visiting the play area. Activities are included with daytime admission and free for Annual Zoo Pass holders.
What little engineer wouldn't love a chance to hang with the true little engine that could, Thomas, and his friends at a play date? A Thomas & Friends Play Dates is set at a Toys R Us near you from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. There will be storytime every half hour, coloring, and a Thomas & Friends play table time. Every kiddo will get a free park of Thomas Trading Cards (while supplies last). And If you can't make it that day, head over to TRU for Geoffrey's Birthday Party on Sept. 27 from 1-2 p.m. which will feature more Thomas and Friends fun.
Finally, on Sunday, the Brooker Creek Preserve hosts an Open Classroom, which means families are free to come in and check out the skulls and furs, look through the microscopes and follow the self-guided nature walk. It's from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. For info, call (727) 453-6800.
Phew! Such a busy weekend and it's not even fall yet. Head out and have fun.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson
[Photos: Times files; fisherprice.com]