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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



night_hike.jpgWe've got Christmas in July, including St. Nick, cooled-off night hikes, a free parrot show and more wallet-friendly diversions to get you through our midsummer slog.

Since it’s way too hot to think about taking a hike during the day, two local nature parks are offering night hikes this week to see the critters that come out in the dark. Saturday at 6:30 p.m. you can take a guided walk through the woods of Largo’s McGough Nature Park, 11901 146th St. N. It’s free but you have to call (727) 518-3047 to register. Tuesday night at 8:30, guides at St. Petersburg’s Boyd Hill Nature Preserve offer a kid-friendly look at the creepy crawlies that come out at night. It’s $3 for adults, $1.50 for kids. The park is at 1101 Country Club Way S, in St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. Slather on the bug repellent and bring a flashlight if you like.

Ho, ho, ... huh? We’re always a little shocked when we stumble upon an event in July that features Santa and Mrs. Claus. Fortunately, the Christmas in July at the Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs has been going on for a few years now, and we actually think it’s kind of cute that oodles of Santas come out for the parade (and that they’re not wearing their Santa Speedos!). The day will also feature elves, elf games for kids, reindeer 101 classes and photos with Santa. It all starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the docks, 20 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs. And best of all, it’s free.

Set your alarm clock next Thursday to go shopping in your jammies. At the Sunrise Sale and Pajama Party shoppers who are wearing their pajamas or who bring a new pair to donate to the Pajama Program receive extra discounts and a chance to win special gifts. Follow the trail of yellow flags and yellow and orange balloons to other participating locations along Beach Drive and Second Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg on July 21 at the break of dawn at 6:43 a.m.

See a variety of beautiful exotic parrots at the Paradise Parrot Show. Theywill perform tricks such as riding a bicycle, roller skate and even play basketball at a show Wednesday at the New Tampa Regional Library. It starts at 2 p.m. at 10001 Cross Creek Blvd.

Paint Your Shoes Night: Every Thursday night in July, bring a pair of your shoes to paint in the style of Dale Chihuly. 5 p.m., The Chihuly Collection, 400 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg. Free with admission to the collection. (727) 896-4527;

bowling.jpgOakfield Lanes of Brandon has some deals to get you out of the house and go bowling. Dollar Day Mondays are every Monday from 9 a.m. to noon for just $1 per game. Freebie Fridays is every Friday from 9 a.m. to noon where you can buy one game for $3, get one free. You can also bowl for $2 a game on Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon Monday nights from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The bowling alley is at 1001 Oakfield Drive in Brandon (just south of SR 60 off Kings Ave and Oakfield Drive in Brandon. All prices are per person, per game and do not include shoe rental. Phone (813) 681-4783.

There will be a  Guitar Hero tournament on stage with a big-screen and heavy amplitude, beer pong, ping-pong, darts and cornhole at the Thursday Night Hang today and the next two Thursdays at Jannus Live. The courtyard stays open until 3 a.m., with live music from Sheffield Crew The party starts at 7 p.m. at Jannus Live!, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. Free.

It isn't cheap to go to MOSI, but if you go Sunday, there's a lot of freebies thrown in for the science museum's birthday celebration. It's National Ice Cream Day for one and you can grab a free sample of Blue Bell Ice Cream (noon to 2 p.m. Sunday) or see who wins an ice cream-eating competition all in honor of National Ice Cream Day. Also, MOSI’s InterActors will get into the science behind it with a cryo-freezing demonstration, using liquid nitrogen in the lobby. The retail store will feature freeze-dried astronaut ice cream.
And there’s lots more planned this weekend at MOSI. (Plus, while you’re there, see if you can get a glimpse of their upcoming Sky Trail Ropes Course, which is opening next week.) Take your pick:
Keeping the Beat Birthday Bash at MOSI Dance, jump and learn about rhythm, sound waves and tone while you help celebrate the 6th birthday of Kids In Charge 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Planetarium Birthday Party Celebrate the birthday of Saunders Planetarium and come out to see the stars that surround Earth and discover other shining planets in these hourly planetarium shows. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
Summer Fun in the IDEA Zone Turn your imagination into a reality in this do-it-yourself laboratory for children and adults. Activities include high-tech gaming, simulations, fashion design, robot building and science experiments. This weekend features “Lego Builders.” Piece together buildings, cars and everything else. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
It's all included with MOSI admission: $20.95 adults (13-59), $16.95 child (2-12), $18.95 seniors (60+). 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000.

Have a lizard fan in your house? The Florida International Reptile Show, called The Repticon by its friends, features vendors with reptile pets and everything related to reptiles, amphibians and exotic animals. $10, $5 ages 5-12, 4 and younger free. Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (863) 268-4273. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Discover Nature and Culture with Your Child Stop by the coastal classroom so children can explore authentic archaeological materials and sift through the past with hands-on aboriginal tools. Free. Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. Noon-3 p.m. Saturday.

Catch a demonstration by mosaic artist David Khalil and  Express Yourself. Kids can try their hand at painting, sculpture and computer graphic design in hands-on art activities in the Express Yourself Art Studio exhibit. $10 ages 2-54, $9 ages 55 and older, 1 and younger free. Great Explorations Children’s Museum, 1925 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 821-8992. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.

Musicians and vendors line a mile of the beachfront trail for  Saturday Sunsets on the Trail along with street performers, waterslides and various inflatables for the kids. This portion features music by Pilot Brothers and a screening of the PG-13-rated movie Iron Man 2 on the beach at 9 p.m. Free. Treasure Island Beach Trail Park, 10400 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. (727) 547-4575. 5-9 p.m. Saturday.

Teens and tweens ages 11-17 can hang with friends and enjoy swimming, snacks, games and prizes for  Teen Tidalwave Tuesdays in and around the pool. $3. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3016. 7-9 p.m. Tuesday.

Wee-time at Weedon includes story-related crafts, games and other hands-on activities. This portion features Nancy Loewen’s book Hungry Hoppers: Grasshoppers in Your Backyard. In the book, Loewen explores the special abilities of the big jumpers. Best for ages 3-5. Free (registration required). Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 10:30-11:15 a.m. today.

This week’s Dive-In Movie is the animated film Despicable Me. Get there early so you can float and swim awhile before the family-friendly film starts. Bring your noodles, floats and chairs. $3 per person; drinks, snacks and glow jewelry for sale. St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach. (727) 363-9245. 8 p.m. Friday.

Family Flix @ Your Library features Disney’s 84-minute G-rated comedy Beverly Hills Chihuahua, starring a troupe of very talented live dogs. Free. St. Petersburg Main Public Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7724. 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Just float around in the pool while you enjoy themed games, free hot dogs, contests, crafts and a film viewing for Flick n Float. This portion features the film How to Train Your Dragon (approximately 9 p.m.) and medieval-themed activities. There is a new three-story inflatable slide on the grounds; $5 gets you unlimited slides. $5, $4 resident . Bring your own floaties, noodles and chairs. Southwest Recreation Complex and Pool, 13120 Vonn Road, Largo. (727) 518-3126. 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Flicks and Fins at the Aquatic Center invites everyone for a fun family night of games, prizes, martial arts demonstrations and a screening of the 2010 film Karate Kid. Bring an inflatable to relax in the pool while watching the movie. Food and drink available for purchase. Free. Seminole Recreation Center, 9100 113th St. N, Seminole. (727) 397-6085. 7 p.m. Friday.
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies for Sunset Cinema at Pier 60. Friday features the PG-rated film You Again. Saturday features the PG-rated film Footloose. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Shows start around dusk. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 5:50pm]


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