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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



newyear.jpgHappy New Year! One of our resolutions is to be more mindful of spending, and what better way than free and cheap things to do with the kids? Spending time, not spending money, is the most important thing. And this week we have lots of kid-friendly New Year's options, as well as a parade for the Outback Bowl, a $2 museum deal and more.

We have more than 70 New Year's events in our listings, many of them kid approved, such as the family-friendly First Night in St. Petersburg's Straub Park (buttons are $12, $6), featuring Michael Lynche and Suite Caroline. There will be fireworks at 9 p.m. and midnight and tons of kid activities, from a block-long bubble wrap stomp to bouncey houses and carnival games. Look here for a full schedule. Over in Tampa's Channelside district they will have their annual fireworks show as well as live entertainment and a midnight ball drop. Both Lowry Park Zoo and the Glazer Children's Museum will have a midday Noon Year's Eve party for kids. There also parties for kids at Celebration Station and at JumpZone.

It’s time for the annual Outback Bowl and there are some free events to welcome the Georgia Bulldogs and Michigan State Spartans. On Friday the teams, their marching bands and cheerleaders take to the beach adjacent to Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach for a day of live music, skydivers and contests starting at 11 a.m. Then on Saturday, watch a  New Year’s Eve parade and pep rally as it marches down Ybor’s Seventh Avenue starting at 5:30 p.m. Free.

Blast Friday, the Clearwater street festival,  blasts off into the New Year with Marty Balin, best known as the lead singer for Jefferson Airplane, as well as his own solo career. He’ll be playing on the Cleveland Street stage in front of the Capitol Theatre. This free street festival will feature a variety of vendors, as well as food, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. It runs 5:30 to 10 p.m. and at 10, there’s a special screening of the cult classic Trading Places at the Capitol Theatre for just $5. (Warning: This may be set at Christmastime, but this 1983 Eddie Murphy comedy earned its R rating).

It’s the first Tuesday of the month, so that means you get cheap admission to the Glazer Children’s Museum for $2 Target Tuesday when it's just $2 for everyone from 2 to 7 p.m. The museum is in Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza.

Got a resolution to exercise more? Check out the Monday Night Group Bicycle Ride. Last year, this was held on Thursdays, but in the new year, this weekly guided fun bike ride moves to Monday nights at City Bike Tampa. The ride breaks into groups for slow and fast riders, and ends at a bar or restaurant for socializing after the ride. Lights required. Helmets suggested. The group meets at 6 p.m. at City Bike Tampa, 212 E Cass St. Free.

lipizzan.jpgThe magnificent Lipizzan Stallions, the famed leaping horses from Austria, have settled into their winter home in Myakka City. For a $5 donation per person you can pull up a lawn chair to the arena and see spectacular leaps and plunges that were originally meant for use by mounted riders to inspire terror in the hearts of foot soldiers during ancient Greek wars. The breed was almost wiped out during World War II, but Gen. George Patton led an effort to spirit them to safety. The ranch is just south of the Tampa Bay area. Go to for more information and directions.

Catch a sunset and a movie. Sunset Cinema at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach is wrapping up its weeklong string of free movies. Friday is Outback Bowl Beach Day, and there will be a screening of the PG-rated film Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday is the sweet but scary Super 8 (PG-13) at 6:30 p.m. Bring blankets, towels or low lawn chairs to plop on the beach. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. (727) 434-6060.

Deck the dog with boughs of holly. The Holiday Lights Dog Parade is becoming a popular tradition at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. Dress your dog up and stroll through the boardwalk, lavishly decorated for the holidays. Registration is 1 to 1:45 p.m., and the dog parade starts  at 2 p.m. Saturday. Enter your dog in up to six categories: best costumed; sit and stay on command; best trick; best smile; and most handsome boys and prettiest girls. Vendors will join the festivities from noon to 4 p.m. at 12211 Walsingham Road.

You can go fish at Edward Medard Park again. The park, which is tucked away in eastern Hillsborough County between Brandon and Plant City, will reopen for boating and catch-and-release fishing on Saturday.  The park, at 6140 Turkey Creek Road in Plant City, has been closed to those activities since November 2009 for maintenance on the park’s reservoir, which has been restocked with more than 400,000 fish, including bluegill and largemouth bass, which are too young to take home.  Park entry fee is $2 per vehicle carrying up to eight people. Boat launching fee is $5 per boat per day. Annual passes are available.

On Sunday, you can go wild at the market. Hold a python, pet an iguana or stare down a barn owl with Justin Matthews of Matthews Wildlife Rescue at the Corey Fresh Market on Corey Avenue in St. Pete Beach. He’ll be a part of this New Year’s Day experience, which also features arts/crafts, foods and live music. Corey merchants are open for shopping, dining and libations. Market opens at 9 a.m.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 5:58pm]


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