Free and cheap family fun
This is it. The last weekend before most kids head back to school. We wrote a fun story looking at ways that you can keep the kids out late for their last hurrah, including a trip to the drive-in theater. But if you would rather have your fun a little earlier, here are some ideas.
Under the guise of education, the Creature Feature at Weedon Island Preserve lets kids see oysters, snails, worms, crabs and fish — all critters that play roles in the shallow water ecosystems of Tampa Bay. Best for ages 8 and older. It’s from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Admission is free, but registration is required. Call (727) 453-6500.
Friday is the last night for Family Night at Fossil Park Pool. There are water slides, games and prizes from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Admission is $2.50 for kids 12 and under, $3 for anyone over 13, whether or not you swim. Find the fun at 6739 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg.
E.T., the adorable alien who loves Reese’s Pieces, can’t hold his liquor and knows how to go fly a bike, lands at the Beach Theatre on Saturday in the free Kids Matinee. See 7-year-old Drew Barrymore in pigtails at 10 a.m. at 315 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach. Call (727) 360-6697 for details.
If you’re still finishing up back-to-school shopping (hint: peace sign designs and Twinkle Toes shoes are so in), Seminole Mall is hoping to lure you in with games, music, prizes and other fun at Back to School Fun Day on Saturday. It’s from noon to 4 p.m. at 11201 Park Blvd., Seminole. It’s free — except for the shopping bills. Call (727) 392-8174 for more info.
The Summer Classic Movie Series winds down for the summer and winds down the yellow brick road with the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. Yes, we’ve all seen it a million times, but there’s no place like the Tampa Theatre to see Dorothy and the gang. Toto, too. The theater opens at 2 p.m. for guided tours, with the film starting at 3, both Saturday and Sunday. 711 Franklin St., Tampa. Cost is $8 and you can get more details at (813) 274-8286.
They have crayfish in Sweden? Apparently they do, as Ikea will this weekend celebrate a centuries-old Swedish end-of-summer tradition with all-you-can-eat crayfish, Swedish cheeses, crisp breads, dessert and party hats for all at the Craving a Crayfish Party. Tickets, which are $9.99; $2.49 ages 3-12; 2 and younger free, are available at Ikea in advance and at the event (if available). The party is from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday (last admission at 8:30 p.m.) at Ikea, 1103 N 22nd St., Tampa. Get more details toll free at 1-800-434-4532.
If crayfish aren't to your liking, then maybe your kids will want to go to Whole Foods Market in Tampa for the Cookie Mom-sters class at 3 p.m. Saturday. Kids ages 3 and up are invited to build a wheat and casein-free cookie at the store. It's free but you have to register at (813) 874-9435 to attend. Parents must attend with children.
Last year, we told Rays Rookies club members to head to Tropicana Field to celebrate Raymond's Birthday. After attending with several friends and their kids, we came away a little disappointed with the festivities. Earlier this year we attended a club event in which the air conditioner wasn't turned on at the Trop. We lasted for about an hour before the sweat started to puddle up. So I tell you that there is another event -- Raymond's birthday again -- with a little hesitation. But since the gates are opening at 10:15 a.m. Sunday for a party with Raymond and friends -- something we advised them to do after last year's event -- we think they may have tried to work out the kinks. Rookies and their parents will need a ticket for the game, which start as low as $10. Now there are a few good reasons to attend the game on Sunday: The first 10,000 kids 14 and younger to attend the game get a free Raymond bank. Those attending the party will get to have food, win prizes and play games. And the Rays are playing the Texas Rangers, a team als o battling for a wild card playoff berth. So if your kids are Rays Rookies, RSVP to RaysRookies@Raysbaseball.com with the words "Raymond's Birthday" in the subject line. If you need a membership, go to Raysbaseball.com and see what you can do to sign up.
And to save a buck or two, don't forget free haircuts this weekend.
Mommas, help the kids enjoy their last weekend of freedom. And then get ready to get back on your schedule.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Sherry Robinson