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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week



Here's some numbers for you: As of today it's 10 days until Halloween, 35 days until Thanksgiving and 65 days until Christmas. Guess how many days until we are broke? In the meantime, here's some free and cheap things to do with your kids:

goosebumps.jpgLots of authors will be at Saturday’s St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading a daylong ode to the printed page (although this year brings some new talks on e-books and self-publishing). The free event is at the USF-St. Pete campus, with tons of authors, including R.L. Stine (Goosebumps), former Florida Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay, bestselling crime novelist Michael Connelly and new this year is the Zombie Nation, a USF literature class that has published a collection of short stories, Zombie St. Pete. It’s from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Bayboro campus. See an author schedule at the festival website.

Bring your four-legged friend in costume to the mall for Dogtoberfest, the doggie costume contest, which will have more than $1,000 in prizes. Live music from the John Nunes Trio. There also will be more than 40 vendors, face painters, balloon artists and hundreds of cats, dogs, kittens and puppies up for adoption. Free. 2-6 p.m. Saturday. The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Suite 100, Wesley Chapel. (813) 994-2242.

Johnny Rockets at the Citrus Park mall is now offering kids-eat-free days. Hit the burger joint Mondays-Wednesdays from 4 to 9 p.m. and kids eat free with a paid adult meal.

The 2.1-mile Crystal River Eco-Walk site comes alive with Haunted Halloween. Ghosts and goblins are in for a howling good time with the “Very Terrifying Tram Ride,” the 19th century fad “Mortuary Photography,” mysterious movies, live music under the oaks, a children’s festival and eerie edibles for sale. For an additional scare and $5 more, tour the “Castle Keep Resort,” which is recommended for adults and older children. $5, $3 ages 11-and-younger. 7-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Crystal River Preserve State Park , 3266 N Sailboat Ave., Crystal River. (352) 563-0450.

This weekend and next, you can stroll in the Haunted Forest of the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary at the Second Annual Haunted Ape Escape. See “Gator Crusader” Michael Womer wrestle alligators in the “Cage of Death,” and eat carnival food starting at 7 p.m., 4600 Alt. 19, Tarpon Springs. $4;

The King is here. LeBron James and the Heat have us a lot more interested in Friday’s Miami Heat-Orlando Magic preseason game at the St. Pete Times Forum. Injuries may keep us from seeing every star on the court, if we are lucky we’ll see James, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Vince Carter at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. Tickets are $20-$125. For details, see

The Halloween parties are really cranking up, among them Guppyween, where the kids can go trick-or-treating tank to tank through  the Florida Aquarium in Sunday and if they are in costume they get in for $2 (limit four children per adult at this price). 12 and older $12. It’s 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 273-4000. For more Halloween events, check here.

Get that cute kid of yours to bring home some bacon. You  could win $500 and bragging rights for all of Tampa Bay at the Cutest Kid Contest. But it's not as shallow as it may appear. All proceeds will benefit the Newspaper in Education program at the St. Petersburg Times.  It costs $10 to enter and votes are $1 each. Every dollar raised will be used to purchase class sets of the newspaper and provide  curriculum to classrooms across the Tampa Bay area. Click here to get some photo-taking tips and to submit a photo of your cutie patootey kid before Oct. 24, then get all of your friends and family to vote for that adorable bundle of goodness. The contest will be open between Oct. 25 and Nov. 14.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 8:41am]


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