Free and cheap family fun this week
Be it resolved that we may be watching our budgets, but we can still find a good time on the cheap. Here’s this week’s offering:
The Epiphany Cross Diving Ceremony and Festival is one of the most unique events in the Tampa Bay area, when Tarpon Springs puts on the largest Greek Orthodox Epiphany celebration in the Western Hemisphere to commemorate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Thousands will arrive at Craig Park on Spring Bayou around noon on Tuesday. The church’s archbishop will bless the waters, a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit will be released and teenage boys will dive into the cold water to retrieve a cross that is said to give them blessings for a full year. A festival follows with Greek food, dancing and music at Craig Park. Free.
The snow birds are here! And not just the ones who drive Buicks. The bird watching is fantastic right now and there are several guided hikes you can take with more experienced birders. The Clearwater Audubon Bird Watching Walk is from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Moccasin Lake Nature Park, 2750 Park Trail Lane, Clearwater. The easy walk is less than a mile on shell-packed trails. Call (727) 462-6024; the cost is $3.50, $2 for ages 3 to 12. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve’s expert birders will lead a free hike at 8 a.m. Saturday at 1101 Country Club Way S in St. Petersburg. Or meet at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Fort De Soto Park ranger’s station for a free bird-watching walk along the causeways, shoreline and trails.
Wheel through the woods with the nature guides at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve at their free Bike Safari on Saturday. Starting at 9 a.m., pedalers will take a leisurely bike ride through parts of the preserve not normally accessible to visitors. Snacks are included, and bicycle helmets are required. It's free, but call the preserve at (727) 893-7326 for reservations.
It’s the First Friday of 2009! Get Downtown, the first Friday block party in downtown St. Petersburg, will have music by smooth jazz artist Stacey Knights and lots of post-holiday milling about, like an outdoor cocktail party on Central Avenue between Second and Third streets starting at 6 p.m. And over in Gulfport, the First Friday Art Walk will have a village of arts and craft vendors, art demonstrations, with live entertainment at the Gulf Porch. It all takes place in the Gulfport Art District, south of 28th Avenue, on Beach Boulevard. Free trolley rides, pet friendly. 6-10 p.m. Friday.
Melting waffles, anyone? Take the kids on an interactive tour after scarfing down Breakfast with Dali a tour of the surreal museum aimed at ages 5 to 12. A breakfast buffet is offered and each child gets a souvenir, followed by hands-on crafts. It starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Dali Museum, 1000 Third St. S, in St. Petersburg. Cost is $20 per family of two; $10 each for additional immediate family members or $20 each for additional non-family members. Call (727) 823-3767. salvadordalimuseum.org.
Take a the kids on a free train ride the miniature trains of Largo Central Railroad this weekend. A local nonprofit group sells refreshments and the train winds through Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. It runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It’s free, but donations are accepted for train maintenance; largoevents.com.
The Imagination Movers, a four-man Disney Channel musical-comedy show that’s been described as “alt rock for kids, Beastie Boys meet Mr. Rogers, Red Hot Chili Peppers meet Captain Kangaroo.” See them on stage at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Saturday with shows at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets are $21, and $29 includes meet and greet. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
If your kids fancy a mystery, Animal Detectives lets them follow clues left by furred and feathered preserve inhabitants and make plaster casts of some animal tracks to take home at the Brooker Creek Preserve, 3940 Keystone Road, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Tarpon Springs. It's free, but call to register. (727) 453-6800.
Beach Nesting Birds Need Our Help is the title of a talk on how to identify and protect local seabirds in class presented by Eckerd College professor Beth Forys. Includes basic shorebird identifications, data collections protocols, ongoing monitoring and management. It's 2 p.m. Sunday at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, 18328 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores. Free. (727) 391-2473. seabirdsanctuary.com.
Ticket start at $8 for hockey games and this Saturday's Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Carolina Hurricanes
features a free post-game concert by Canadian hard rockers Danko Jones. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-6600. lightning.nhl.com.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne