Free and cheap family fun this week
Recovered from the Halloween and time change hangover? Time to actually relax. We don't want to stress our your wallet while you de-stress so here's this week's offering of free and cheap fun with the kids.
This is not exactly cheap, but kids 12 and under do get in free at the always popular Ribfest at Vinoy Park at Fifth Avenue NE and North Shore Drive in downtown St. Petersburg. For adults it's $10 in advance that you can buy here. Otherwise it's $15 at the gate. Note that online advance ticket sales will end at midnight Thursday. Sales at Wireless Toyz stores will end at noon Friday. There's also a kids play area with inflatables and games (the photo from 2005 shows the kids plying in bubbles). It's $12 for an all-day ride pass. In addition to some of the best ribs in the country, you can hear classic rock from Styx (Friday), the Doobie Brothers (Saturday) and the Little River Band and Asia (Sunday).
The Beach Theatre is still running it's popular series of free kids movies on Saturdays at 10 a.m. This week it's Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Next week it's Nancy Drew and Nov. 29 is Laurel and Hardy in Babes in Toyland. The movie house is at 315 Corey Ave. in St. Pete Beach.
The recently remodeled University Mall in Tampa will debut its new interactive winter wonderland with a tree lighting ceremony including Santa on Saturday at 10 a.m. Some of our Mommas here have already checked out the new pirate-themed children’s soft play area and say it's a hit with the tots. The Mommas like the family restroom suites with nursing lounges, bottle warmers and touch free amenities. More Santas will be making their way into town as well.
Hockey should put you in a wintry mood, even as you apply sunscreen for playtime. Tickets start at $8 for Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive in Tampa. (They play the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday). The game starts at 7:30 p.m. See the team's web site for tickets.
How about some art and culture this weekend? See a staging of The Gruffalo, an adaptation of the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler at noon Sunday at the Murray Studio Theater at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Tickets are $8. Or take the kids to the Museum of Fine Arts for Discovery Hour
on Saturday, a noon-1 p.m. tour that allows children to find a great work in the museum’s collection and handle touchable objects related to the art. It's included in the museum admission, which is $10-$12 for adults, $6 for kids 7 to 18. Children 6 and under free. Call (727) 896-2667 for more information.
For a heads up, you can get free circus tickets next week by donating food to Metropolitan Ministries, but there are other ways to do good as well. The Arts Center is opening the doors for three high-quality art exhibits on Friday and all they ask is that you bring some food for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic Food Bank on Friday night. Starting at 5:30 p.m., you can check out Glorious Glass: Translucent and Opaque, which shows off glass sculpture by 43 American and international artists. Then take in the work of an acclaimed jazz photographer, who has put together an exhibit called Herb Snitzer, the First Five Years, the Last Five Years, 1958-1963/2003-2008 — a collection of memorable images. Finally, get into the holiday mood with Stargazing, the center’s annual holiday exhibition of festive works of art. Cards, ornaments, and more will be featured in the gallery shop. The center is at 719 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. Free, but please bring nonperishable goods for the Food Bank.
And canned goods can get you into shows free on Sundays in November at Side Splitters Comedy Club’s Laugh your Can Off promotion. Bring in canned goods for Metropolitan Ministries of Tampa and this Sunday’ at 7 p.m. you will see h comedian Frankie Paul.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne
[Photos: RibFest -- St. Petersburg Times files; Christmas tree -- Associated Press; Art Center photo]