Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week
As they say in New Orleans, Laissez le bon temps roulez -- Let the good times roll! Fat Tuesday is almost upon us, a good time to make some challenges for Lent or just enjoy some of the free parties and parades around town. We also have fun bicycle safety events, a free day at the horse races, a book blast at the mall and more free and cheap things to do with the family this week.
The Mardi Gras festivities aren’t limited to Fat Tuesday. The fun folks in Pass-a-Grille are setting up a Mardi Gras Beach Midway on Saturday and Sunday (Mardi Gras style masks and costumes encouraged) next to the Art Mart, 900 Gulf Way, St. Pete Beach, with live music from noon to sunset both days. Then on Fat Tuesday, the Dunedin Mardi Gras Parade gets rolling at 5 p.m. on Main Street, with colorful floats, lots of beads, live music and a street party. Over in Ybor City, Bernini Restaurant and Green Iguana, 1702 E Seventh Ave., decided to join forces and start a Mardi Gras Fete on Tuesday at 6 p.m. They want to create an annual Ybor Mardi Gras tradition. To do that, they’re throwing a huge party inside the restaurants and on the sidewalk cafe areas with a free creole buffet, King cakes, the Dixieland Quartet Second Line Band.
Get on your bike and try to win USF’s Amazing Race and Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Fair. This is one of many fun events cooked up this month in an effort to make March bicycle safety month in the Tampa Bay area. The Safety Fair runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the race teams check in at 11 a.m. before the noon start of a bicycle scavenger hunt at USF’s Tampa campus. The race is open to anyone over the age of 18; you do not need to be affiliated with USF. Advanced registration required at www.TampaBayCycle.com.
Ride your bike, get in free. That's the offer from the Lightning who are getting into the bicycle spirit, too. If you ride your bike to Monday’s game against the Washington Capitals, you get in for free. It’s also “Go Green Night” and the first 5,000 fans in Lightning gear at the 7:30 p.m. game will get a Lightning recyclable grocery bag.
Going to the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts? Stop by Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., where they are giving free tours of the historic movie house and a concert on the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. It’s free from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more on the Gasparilla Arts Fest, see our colleague Lennie Bennett's article here on how more hatn 300 artists are ready to show their stuff. Best of all, it's free.
Grab your family for a free Family Day at Tampa Bay Downs on Sunday. It’s a day of thoroughbred horse racing, carnival-style games, mini golf, moon bounces, face painting, pony rides and prizes for the kids, from noon to 3 p.m. at Tampa Bay Downs, 11225 Race Track Road. Free. The first 100 guests get a free lunch. Free. Call (813) 263-3469.
Friday is the first Friday of the month, so it's Get Downtown, the downtown St. Pete street party on Central Avenue and Third Street. It's a fun, free night of music and mingling.
Are you a yard sale maven? Saturday starting at 8 a.m. is the St. Pete Beach Community Wide Yard Sale This large-scale event will take place in three different areas of the Community Center. St. Pete Beach Community Center and Horan Park, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach.
Kids of all ages are invited to the Kidgits Book Blast Saturday at Tyrone Mall that celebrates reading and uses activities and giveaways to bring children’s stories to life. Bring new or gently-used books to benefit the Florida Department of Education’s “Just Read, Florida!” initiative, 6901 Tyrone Square, St. Petersburg. It's free and it starts at noon.
Have a punk rock fan in your house? Saturday at noon is the Punk Rock Record Swap. Buy, sell or trade your punk rock music with other music lovers at Sadie Park, 510 E Sadie St. in Brandon. (So I guess that means punk rock fans are in their 40s and living in Brandon now?)
Author Tammar Stein, the award-winning author of the young adult novels Light Years and High Dive, will discuss and sign her new book, Kindred at the Whistle Stop Grill, , 915 Main Street, Safety Harbor, on Monday from 7 to 9 p.m.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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