Free and cheap family fun
Although National Popcorn Day was celebrated earlier this week, the kids can still pop like a kernel in hot oil during this special bounce on Friday. The fun is from 4-6 p.m. and costs $8 per child. All kids who come in get a free bag of popcorn. This sounds like a good way to tire out the little ones. The fun is at BounceU, 5419 Village Market in Wesley Chapel. Call (813) 907-5867 to reserve a spot.
The lengthy Gasparilla party kicks off this weekend with this weekend with the Gasparilla Children's Extravaganza in downtown Tampa. There are plenty of events to keep the kids busy with a bike safety rodeo, an air invasion with vintage aircraft, a parachute team, the Preschooler's Stroll and the big Children's Parade. The day is capped off with a fireworks display. It's all free but there are options for buying tickets to sit in bleachers for the parade or paying to get on a shuttle because parking is a nightmare down there. Go to the Gasparilla Web site for more details on how to make the day a good one for the whole family. Other events connected to the pirate fun will be a special kid-friendly tour at the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa. The Morning at the Museum program will focus on pirates. And for parents, you'll enjoy the gigantic bottles that will wash ashore and be filled with kid-size furniture, courtesy of IKEA. The 9-foot bottles will be at Bayshore Boulevard and Nance Ave. from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Families visiting the area will have a chance to win the contents of each bottle and children can play, get pirate goodies and get a special Gasparilla tattoo.Still can't get enough of the circus? The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota has some fun planned at its Celebrate Circus event from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Circus stars, musicians and model builders will fill the museum grounds to show off their talents. There will be trapeze and tight rope demonstrations, juggling and stilt walking, costumes and face painting and circus crafts. Nik Wallenda, a member of the tight-rope walking Wallenda clan, will be on hand for a demonstration. Tickets are and children 17 and under are free with a paid adult. The museum is at 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. Call (941) 359-5700 or go to the museum's Web site for more info.
If you're looking for a way to get in on the "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" promotion, there is one coming up from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the Westminster Apartments, 200 Westminster Blvd., in Oldsmar. Volunteers must be ages 14 and up according to one of the organizers, Gayle Robinson (no relation to the writer of this post). Volunteers should wear close-toed shoes and anyone age 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Check here for all the details.
This is the final weekend of the Florida Classic Clusters Dog Show near Brooksville. If you love the pooches and like to see them being put through their paces, this is the place for you. The show is Friday-Sunday at Florida Classic Park, 5360 Lockhart Road. Call (813) 480-3975 for more info.
Come celebrate the year of the Tiger during a Chinese New Year Celebration from 7-9 p.m. Friday at Pioneer Park in Dunedin. There will be Chinese folk dancers, songs, martial arts demonstrations, food and a fashion show. And what celebration would be complete without a dragon dance? It's free to get in but food is extra.
Also on Friday is the monthly 4th Fridays in Clearwater -- Party on the Street beginning at 5:30 p.m. There's music, food, magicians and other family fun. It's free to go but food costs extra. Proceeds from beer and wine sales benefit Greyhound Pets of America Tampa Bay. Call toll-free 1-866-550-3472 for the details.
If you want to have a little loud fun with the family, head to the Monster Jam at Raymond James Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Sharon said in an earlier post that it feels so wrong but watching the trucks is totally awesome. And because the show has been so popular, a second show has been added Feb. 6. You can tailgate and get show tickets that start at $15.
If you're still looking for something to do as the weekend winds down, check out the production of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing at Ferguson Hall at David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 MacInnes Place, Tampa. Performances are at 2 and 4 p.m. and tickets are $8.50-$12.50. Call (813) 229-7827.
And if none of these events are quite what you are looking for, check out the family friendly fare throughout the bay area.
-- Sherry Robinson