Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week
That slight chill in air means it's festival season here in the Tampa Bay area. One of the best, Airfest, returns MacDill Air Force Base but there are no fewer than 20 fun festivals planned for this weekend alone! Before you start griping about the holiday stress, take some time to go outside and have some family fun. We have that and more cheap diversions in this week's free and cheap list:
Look! Up in the sky! It's Airfest 2011. This enormously popular air show was moved to November this year so it could schedule the main event, the USAF Thunderbirds. The gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, but cars often start lining up at 6 a.m. to enter MacDill Air Force Base on either Dale Mabry Highway or MacDill Avenue. Bring a folding chair, and don’t forget ear plugs, especially for kids. Do not bring pets. Free admission and parking. See macdill-airfest.com for a schedule.
I still have uneaten Halloween candy, yet today, Nov. 3, we log in our first Christmas events of the season:
Holiday Boutique Opening Reception: The Florida Craftsmen transforms its gallery into a holiday shopping spot. Opens at 5:30 p.m. Friday and runs through Dec. 31 at 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 821-7391. Upstairs at Artlofts@Florida Craftsmen Galleries is the yearly sale of holiday decorations for $5 each, to benefit Suncoast Hospice. It also starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday. (727) 418-8887.
Holiday Gift Market: More than 140 merchants offer clothing, jewelry, art and children’s items, with proceeds benefiting the Junior League of Tampa. It runs 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. $8 admission. (813) 254-1734.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: The after-hours celebration with Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, the Holiday Wishes fireworks extravaganza and “snow” on Main Street opens at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. See disneyworld.disney.go.com for best ticket prices.
Never mind the Weiner Dog races, “Smooch a Pooch” kissing booth, Pug Parade and Fur Ball Fashion Show at the Family and Pet Extravaganza. That’s just the normal outrageous dog stuff. You want Twiggy the water-skiing squirrel! It all began in 1978 with the original Twiggy, who was rescued after a hurricane and taught to water-ski as a joke. Now a succession of little Twiggys has traveled the world, turned up in bit parts in movies and appeared on TV shows like Animal Planet’s Amazing Animals and Late Show With David Letterman. You can also bring your pet for a Soccer Collies game against kids, a doggie fun zone and a mutt march, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. $5, 10 and younger free.
The power is in the pineapple hat. And possibly the beer. This wild 5K BeachPalooza run tosses in obstacles like a sea of beach balls, fire, a plunge into water, a noodle forest and balancing on a sandy seesaw. And did we mention you’re running in sand? Doggy Paloozers can participate with you, but they must remain on a leash. It’s also a party, with live music, a bonfire, sand dance and, of course, beer. Participants must be 14 or older. Starts at 11 a.m. Saturday at the St. Pete Beach access, 4700 Gulf Blvd. $45-$55. (312) 980-9983. Watch video at www.BeachPalooza.com.
The hipster Sake Bomb lounge in downtown St. Petersburg is throwing this block party with Dime City Cycles with a vintage motorcycle and hot rod show, the Scorpio Art and Vintage Rides Show . There are free motorcycle lessons starting at noon, free samples from restaurants from 4 to 6 p.m., live music. Then ditch the kids and take them up on the free Pabst Blue Ribbon from 9 to midnight and even pinup girls. It’s free admission, $5 cover starting at 6 p.m. Saturday at 548 Central Ave.
Walkers of all ages will stroll through Al Lopez Park in Tampa and end up in Raymond James Stadium for Tampa Bay Start! Heart Walk, a 3-mile hike that takes them down the sideline of the actual playing field. A 1-mile course is also available. It’s all to raise money to fight heart disease and stroke. It starts and ends on Tampa Bay Boulevard between the Yankees complex and Raymond James Stadium. Starts at 8 a.m. Saturday. See tampabayheartwalk.org.
The annual Bicycle Bash bash to promote bicycling as a healthy lifestyle and a good mode of transportation has snagged Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to lead the Buckhorn Bash Ride on the Flatwoods Wilderness Park’s 7-mile loop. Other activities include a swap meet, bike gear giveaway, a bike smart education class and legal advice on bicycle issues. It starts at 10 a.m. Sunday at the park at 14302 Morris Bridge Road, Thonotosassa. Free. See bicyclebash.com.
Kitsch rules atthe Floridiana Festival and Highwaymen Art Show, the 11th anniversary show of old Florida souvenirs and memorabilia. From alligator ashtrays to serious vintage tropical furnishings, you’ll find an abundance of old Florida items. Also meet some of the original Florida Highwaymen artists and a few former Weeki Wachee mermaids. $6, $3 child under age 3. Garden Club of St. Petersburg, 500 Sunset Drive S, St. Petersburg. (727) 421-0441. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
This year marks the West Side Story 50th Anniversary You can see the 10-time Academy Award-winning romantic tragedy starring Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer and Rita Moreno at a limited nationwide screening at 7 p.m. Wednesday. $12.50. Regency 20, 2496 W Brandon Blvd., Brandon. (813) 685-3396. Hyde Park Cinebistro in Tampa, Citrus Stadium 20 in Tampa and Grove 16 in Wesley Chapel. Show time varies by theater. The film also is being shown as part of the Conga Caliente festival at 6 p.m. Saturday at Al Lopez Park, 4810 N Himes Ave., Tampa. (813) 353-8151. Free.
Purple Stride is a 5K run along the downtown waterfront area with a one-mile family walk and a kids dash. There will also be music, kids games, mixed entertainment and a post party. Benefits the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. $25, $10 kids dash, $25 virtual participant, survivors free. Albert Whitted Park, 107 Eighth Ave. SE, St. Petersburg. Toll-free 1-877-272-6226. 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
The Old Northeast Neighborhood turns 100 and celebrates with an old-fashioned picnic, three-legged races, bean bag toss, egg toss, face painting, croquet and badminton games, an antique car display and opening remarks by Mayor Bill Foster. Free (box lunch $10 additional). North Shore Park, 901 North Shore Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 269-5521, ext. 203. Noon-4 p.m. Sunday.
Join the St. Pete Astronomy Club for Astronomy Night, a night of star gazing at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. It's $3, $1.50 children at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
In celebration of Manatee Awareness Month, Snooty the manatee’s caretaker Sarah Grace Nadler will discuss manatees and their care and read from her book I’m A Manatee. Included with daily admission: $5 adults, $4 students/seniors, 6 and younger free. Pier Aquarium, 800 Second Ave. NE, Suite 2001, St. Petersburg. (727) 803-9799. 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Speaking of manatees, Going Coastal: Marvelous Manatees lets you learn about the gentle giants, their life history, why they’re an endangered species and what we can do to protect them. Free (registration required). Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 10 a.m.-noon Saturday.
Climbers 6 and older can ascend into the heights of a live oak for Canopy Tree Climbing using harnesses and a rope pulley system similar to those used in the Amazon rain forests. Organized by Pathfinder Outdoor Education. $10. Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 328-0300. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Largo Cultural Center's Children’s Educational Series brigs Mother Goose to the stage. The show brings classic stories such as Little Boy Blue and The Cat and The Fiddle to life. $7.50, $6.50 children, $22 family four pack. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6793. 11 a.m. Saturday.
Hop on board for free Miniature Train Rides Kids and adults can ride the miniature trains of Largo Central Railroad. Free (donations appreciated). Largo Central Railroad, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6775. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Saturdays at the Morean are free art experiences designed for families with children ages 5-10. Instructors will be on hand to assist. Free. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-7872. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
AMC Theatres and the Autism Society have joined together to present Sensory Friendly Films. This special series of films is in an environment friendly to those affected by autism and other sensory issues. This portion features the film Puss in Boots. $8, $7 ages 2-12 (price varies by theater). Woodlands Square 20, 3128 Tampa Road, Oldsmar. Toll-free 1-888-262-4386. This event is also being held at Veterans 24 in Tampa, Tri-City 8 in Largo and Regency 20 in Brandon. 10 a.m. Saturday.
Have a Twihard in your house? Twilight Saga Tuesdays lets fans of the Twilight Saga can re-watch the first three parts before the premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part I on Nov. 18. Each performance is preceded by behind-the-scenes footage. This portion features part two, The Twilight Saga: New Moon. $12.50. Park Place Stadium 16, 7200 U.S. 19 N., Pinellas Park. (727) 525-7777. Also taking place at Hyde Park Cinebistro in Tampa, Veterans 24 in Tampa, Woodland Square 20 in Oldsmar, Citrus Stadium 20 in Tampa, Regency 20 in Brandon, Hollywood 18 in Port Richey and Grove 16 in Wesley Chapel. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Long Center in Clearwater is having a Halloween Candy Sweet Swap Kids ages 17 and younger can take their excess candy to swap for a gift from the Pumpkin Box and a chance to win a bike, a Play Pass or tickets to a Bucs game. Each pound of candy turned in earns one entry ticket. All candy collected will be sent to U.S. troops through Operation Gratitude. Free. The Long Center, 1501 N Belcher Road, Clearwater. (727) 793-2320. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. today.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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