Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week
Spring is here and we have some cheap antidotes for spring fever this week, from libarary book sales to cool art shows to free movies in the park.
Bookworms, rejoice! Two bay area libraries are holding book sales this weekend. The Friends of the Jan Platt Library will have their annual spring book sale Saturday and Sunday, offering hardcover and paperback fiction and nonfiction titles for children and teens in the $1-$2 range at 3910 S Manhattan Ave., Tampa. At the Gulfport Library, they are celebrating Library Day on Saturday with a sale of books, music and movies for adults, teens and young children. It runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and there will be tours of the library, a scavenger hunt, author signings, refreshments and a membership drive at Gulfport Public Library, 5501 28th Ave. S.
UPDATE: This event has been postponed (I'm leaving it here in case anyone read this when it first went up yesterday --skw) -- It’s a day of family fun activities at the Special Olympics Family Festival on Saturday. The fun includes giant lawn bowling, a steeplechase course, children’s play park, waterfront boat rides, putt-putt golf, giant croquet game, animal petting zoo, giant air rides, arcade games, Frisbee golf and family picnic areas, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive. $5 suggested donation benefits Special Olympics. Call (352) 243-9536.
Bring blankets, chairs, snacks, well-behaved pets and the family to watch Despicable Me on a 50-foot inflatable screen, 8 p.m. at Al Lopez Park on Saturday, 4810 N Himes Ave. Free. Alcohol not permitted. Visit tampatheatre.org.
Let's hope the rain finally gives it a rest so the Pinellas kids on spring break can take advantage of Flick n Float. Bring your favorite float to this special Spring Break edition of the Summer Dive-In Movie Series. Just float around in the pool while you enjoy baseball themed games, hot dogs, contests, crafts and a viewing of the film Final Season (approximately 7:15 p.m.). 5:30 p.m. Friday at the (heated!) Southwest Recreation Complex and Pool, 13120 Vonn Road, Largo. $15 five people, $10 five residents. (727) 518-3126.
Pawfest is fun for the whole family. Even the dog. Here’s a carnival for both kids and canines featuring kids games, face painting, clowns, food and rides on the Largo Central Railroad. Also dog games, a “Dancing with the Dogs” talent show, dog training, K-9 demos and more. 10 a.m. Saturday at Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. Free. (727) 776-7250. The Ruskin PetFest is a full off-leash event Saturday with vendors and contests including pet fashion, silly pet tricks and pet-owner look-alikes, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Dr. Ott’s Off-Leash Dog Park, Third Avenue and 21st Street SE, Ruskin. Free. Benefits Critter Adoption and Rescue Effort (CARE) no-kill animal shelter. Call (813) 661-2458.
It’s the last weekend of Chasco Fiesta, the annual Native American festival and carnival with music every day in Sims Park, 6341 Bank St., New Port Richey. Saturday features the popular Chasco Fiesta Boat Parade with up to 50 wildly decorated boats parading down the Pithlachascotee River. This year’s theme is “Legends.” Boats will be decorated to represent legendary characters, including King Arthur, Babe Ruth, Marilyn Monroe and Paul Bunyan. All decorations must be environmentally friendly. To protect the wildlife, no water balloons, beads or other thrown objects will be permitted. Parade begins at 1 p.m. in Moonlight Bay, passes by Sims Park for judging and turns to the gulf. Spectators free. $25 to enter a boat. (727) 846-1000; www.thechascoboatparade.com.
Pull up a blanket at Curtis Hixon Park for the Friday Extra Concert Series. This week’s show will have O Som do Jazz with Larue Nickelson and Jeremy Powell starting at 7 p.m. Free. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa.
Two fun rides planned this weekend turn your bicycle into a party on the move. The Tweed Ride and Shuffle on Saturday goes retro, inviting a crowd to don its most fashionable vintage attire or tweed and take a leisurely bike ride though downtown St. Petersburg starting at 5:30 p.m. at the equally retro Mirror Lake Shuffleboard Club, 559 Mirror Lake Drive N. Tea and scones will be served before and after the ride. The ride is free, but stay afterward for a swinging party and costume contest with dancing to live music by Lounge Cat, $10. In Tampa, the Hub Grub Ride on Saturday starts at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, 5119 N Nebraska Ave., at 3 p.m. Stop for a meet and greet, enjoy a quick snack, grab brochures and pedal again. All participants must wear a helmet and ride a road-worthy bike. $5, food and drink additional.
Discover the past and get a hands-on experience of what it was like to go to school in 1890s rural Florida on a visit to the Castalia Schoolhouse and other stops at the outdoor living history museum, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Cracker Country at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 N US Highway 301. $7, $6 for seniors and ages 6 to 12, free for ages 5 and younger. Call (813) 627-4225.
Here is a can’t-miss date night. One of the most romantic movies of all time, Casablanca, gets a free showing 8 p.m. Friday in Dunedin’s Pioneer Park, Main Street and Douglas Avenue. Bring your sweetie, something to sit on and dress up as your favorite character in the 1942 classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Climbers 6 and older can ascend into the heights of a live oak using harnesses and a rope pulley system similar to those used in the Amazon rain forests for Canopy Tree Climbing. Organized by Pathfinder Outdoor Education. 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg. $10. (727) 328-0300; www.lakeviewpresbyterianchurch.org.
If you've seen the cute Miniature Train Rides chugging around Largo Central Park, this weekend is a chance to catch a ride. Kids of all ages can ride the miniature trains of Largo Central Railroad. Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 a.m., Largo Central Railroad, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. Free (donations for train maintenance appreciated). (727) 587-6775; www.lcrailroad.com.
Not cheap, but fun
Take a ride on Thomas. The Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish is teaming up with that really useful engine for a Day Out With Thomas. With Sir Topham Hat gently imploring good manners, kids of all ages who love trains can take a 25-minute ride on a 15-ton replica of the polite British film and TV star who has made friends with Ringo Starr and Alec Baldwin along his travels. Activities include storytelling, live music, miniature trains, magic shows, inflatables and building with Mega Blocks. Rides depart numerous times Saturday and Sunday and next weekend on April 9-10. The Manatee County railroad is at 12210 83rd St. E in Parrish. $14.91-$19.17. Toll-free 1-877-869-0800.
Splash around with the fishes. Weekends in April, the Florida Aquarium’s sprayground play area turns into a Splash Bash. Like a kiddie version of Bette Midler’s Vegas show, there’s a mermaid on wheels, a swashbuckling pirate and a crew of entertainers. They will get the kids to dance, sing and play games, compete in hula hoop contests and there’s even a parade of giant fishes. It runs Saturday and Sundays through May 1 starting at 1 p.m. at the Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Admission: $19.95, $16.95 seniors, $14.95 ages 3-12. Phone: (813) 273-4000.
Touch Tunnel: The Next Generation Grand Opening: The popular immersive childrens experience that heightens the sense of touch and sound in a pitch-black maze provides a unique sensory experience. It has been redesigned and will reopen at 10 a.m. Saturday. Special guests include Indy race car drivers Nick Andries and Shannon McIntosh at the Great Explorations Children’s Museum, 1925 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. $10 ages 2-54, $9 ages 55 and older, one and younger free. (727) 821-8992; www.greatexplorations.org.
Look, up in the sky, it's the Sun’n Fun Fly-In. It’s all about planes and flight at the annual Sun’n Fun Fly-In running through Sunday, when the Blue Angels take to the sky over Lakeland. The event features aerobatic performances, static display aircraft, aviation-related forums and workshops, Florida Air Museum, commercial exhibitors and a kids activities area. It runs 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, 3900 Don Emerson Drive, Lakeland. $35 daily, $15 youth daily; $150 weekly, $50 youth weekly; 10 and younger free. (863) 644-2431; www.sun-n-fun.org.
The huge annual St. Paul’s Annual Spring Festival includes midway rides, kids’ games and crafts, bingo under the big tent each afternoon, food court with barbecue, and live music every night. A $75 wristband gets you on rides for all four days at St. Paul Catholic Church, 1800 12th St. N., St. Petersburg. Admission is free, charge for ride wristbands or tickets and food tickets. (727) 822-3481.
Get your fill of mudbugs and celebrate Cajun-style at the Cajun Crawfish Festival with music from Leroy Thomas & the Zydeco Roadrunners, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, J.B.’s ZydecoZoo, Half Dozen Brass Band; crawfish, ales on draft and limited menu for sale. 5 p.m., Cajun Cafe On the Bayou, 8101 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park. $10 Friday, $15 Saturday, $10 Sunday or $25 for three-day ticket. Crawfish, food and beverages extra. 727-546-6732; www.cajuncafeonthebayou.net.
Paws for the Arts: Get your pets messy at the Canterbury School of Florida football field. Animals can romp in non-toxic paints and create a “muttsterpiece.” Prices are $25 for a 16- x 20-inch painting, $35 if you want to reserve a time and skip the line. It’s $5 for each additional pet on the same canvas. Proceeds benefit arts education at the Canterbury School. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Rain date is noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. 10 a.m., Canterbury School Summer Programs, 990 62nd Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. $25-$35. (727) 365-7788; www.canterbury-fl.org/summerprograms.
Bay Area Renaissance Festival: Say huzzah to the wizards, warriors and commoners who populate this replica of a 16th century village with entertainment on multiple stages, street theater, live armored contact jousting, human chess matches, art, craft and other vendors, fire-eaters and more. This weekend’s theme is Wonders of the World with a World Market, belly dance competition and a juggling competition. 10 a.m., Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $14.95 advance, $6.95 ages 5-12 advance; $17.95 at the gate, $14.95 seniors at the gate, $9.95 ages 5-12 at the gate; $10 per pet. (813) 983-0111; www.bayarearenaissancefest.com.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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