Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week
Did we survive Halloween? As expected, the Christmas garland was already crowding out the pumpkins in the stores this week, making us feel a little panicky already. Here's some free and cheap things to do in the meantime:
It's a Party in the Parks! All year long, the 'Burg has been celebrating the 100th birthday of St. Petersburg’s spectacular lineup of waterfront parks that beg for strolling hand in hand. On Saturday, all 12 of the downtown waterfront parks will host a birthday celebration that will be one of the biggest free events of the year.
The SPIFF’s 36th annual Folk Fair will fill Vinoy Park, an old fashioned picnic will take place in North Straub Park, look at planes at Albert Whitted Airport, enjoy live music and dance at 10 different stages, and there will be loads of activities for kids, teens and people who still act like kids. The day ends with the cutting of the centennial birthday cake and a free movie in the park, the John Candy comedy filmed here in the 1980s, Summer Rental. There will be lots of free shuttles running to make parking easier but a better idea would be to bring along your bike so you can pedal through the car-free park zone and cover more ground. For a complete list of events and parking tips, see the event's website.
Bless your heart and head to the Tampa Bay Start! Heart Walk. This three-mile walk that starts and ends in Raymond James Stadium typically draws more than 20,000 peole to raise money for the American Heart Association. It’s free but donations are encouraged. The walking gets started at 8 a.m. at the stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, and there's a kids zone on the field.
Groucho Marx famously observed that, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” Reunite with some of your best friends at the Friends of the Library Book Sale. Thousands of books will be on sale at discounted prices Saturday and Sunday at the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, 3910 S Manhattan Ave., in Tampa The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
This month’s free party Rock the Park in Curtis Hixon Park has a Latin flair, with free tango lessons, Latin American wine tastings and tapas pairings available from Sono Cafe and music by Tribal Style, King of Spain, rayzilla’s PBS. It starts at 6:30 p.m. today (Thursday) at the park at 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. While you are there, swing by the adjacent Tampa Museum of Art, which has free admission every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. (The second Saturday of the month is free at the museum, too, from 9 to 11 a.m. The next one is Nov. 13.)
Kids in first through 8th grade can dip, dive, duck and dodge their way through Friday night at Largo’s Southwest Recreation Complex's Friday Night Dodgeball at 13120 Vonn Road. It’s $3 per child to play and an additional $2 for pizza and drinks, and it starts at 6:30 p.m.
Before the first Black Friday flier is even posted, there are already some holiday gift markets this weekend to help you get a jump on shopping with some unique choices. The Holiday Gift Market at the Floriday State Fairgrounds this weekend will have more than 120 specialty merchants selling jewelry, clothing, handbags, home goods and more to benefit the Junior League of Tampa. It’s $5 at the fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N in Tampa. Clearwater’s Salvation Army will have its annual Christmas Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, with items ranging from jewelry to baked goods to Christmas decorations and much more. A brass ensemble will greet the early birds as they wait for the doors to open, and the Round Table Cafe will open at 8:30 a.m. at the Salvation Army Worship Center, 1625 N Belcher Road, Clearwater.
There's a seemingly endless buffet of food fests to choose from this weekend. Among them:
Ruskin Seafood Festival Feast on seafood ranging from shrimp, clams and stone crab to more exotic fare like conch and alligator. There’s also live steel drum, calypso and reggae bands, boats on display, arts and crafts, a kids area, wellness vendors and wildlife displays. $5, kids under 12 and active military free; $2 per car. Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. E. G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW, Ruskin. (813) 671-7655.
Stone Crab Jam The Rotary Club of King’s Bay and the city of Crystal River present the third annual street fest, which includes music, stone crabs, vendors, a chowder cookoff and a variety of food and drinks. Bands on three stages will fill the streets with music for all ears. $5 admission. Saturday 4-11 p.m. Citrus Avenue , Crystal River. www.stonecrabjam.com.
Taste of Indian Rocks Beach Taste foods from more than 20 restaurants including le Bouchon Bistro, Pie Factory, Tapas Garden & Wine Bar and others (nominal charge for tastes), plus wine and beer for sale, live music from Espree deKor, local business booths and displays. Bring blankets or beach chairs. No dogs or coolers allowed. Proceeds benefit the community through the Indian Rocks Beach Homeowners Association. Free admission, charge for food and beverages. Saturday 4-10 p.m. Chic-a-Si Park, 271 Fourth Ave., Indian Rocks Beach. (727) 517-3131.
Hudson Seafest The 25th annual event has lots of fresh seafood and fair-style foods, a carnival with a large Ferris wheel, live entertainment and arts and crafts vendors. $3 per carload (rides/games/food additional). Friday 5-10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. USA Fleamarket, 11721 U.S. 19, Port Richey. (727) 847-8887.
Fish Broil and Mullet Festival The 80th annual event features lots of broiled fish, face painting, fish painting, bounce houses, a fishing tournament, DJ dancing, a steel drum band and a bonfire with a drumming circle at sunset. $8 fish dinner, $2 hot dogs, $1 kids activities. Saturday 3-7 p.m. Pass-a-Grille Beach, 107 16th Ave., St. Pete Beach. (727) 360-7956.
The first Saturday of each month is free for bikers and skaters at Largo Skate Park's Extreme Jams. Helmets required. Bikes only from noon-3 p.m., and skate only from 3-6 p.m. Free. Saturday noon-6 p.m. Largo Skate Park, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3016.
Kids can ride the miniature trains of Largo Central Railroad's Miniature Train Rides. Free (donations for train maintenance appreciated). Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Largo Central Railroad, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6775.
One of Eckerd Theater Company’s most successful productions is being revived this season, with public performances this weekend and next. It’s The Hundred Dresses, adapted from a beloved children’s book by Eleanor Estes. Originally staged in 1997 by ETC, the touring youth theater company of Ruth Eckerd Hall, the play tells the story of Wanda Petronski, who wears the same faded blue dress to school every day but claims to own 100 dresses, all lined up in her closet at home. The other girls in her class tease and bully her until the truth comes out and they are forced to question their behavior. There are performances at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and 2, 4 and 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at Murray Studio Theater, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. $10. (727) 791-7400; rutheckerdhall.com.
PHOTO: Visitors to North Shore Park in St. Petersburg fish and gaze at the sunset Monday from the waterside lined with palm trees. [DIRK SHADD | Times)
--Sharon Kennedy Wynnne
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