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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



kitefest.jpgWe've got kites flying over Treasure Island, high-stepping marching bands in town for the MLK Day parades and even a Festival of Chocolate. Lots to do this weekend and not all of it will cost a fortune

Watch some of the best multiline kite flyers from all over the country compete in aerial ballets and perform tricks that seem to defy the laws of physicsat the Treasure Island Kite Festival this weekend, left . There will be three rings of constant entertainment from demonstrators flying kites as big as houses, to candy drops for kids and kite skill games. It starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday behind the Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island.

It's MLK weekend and we recommend checking out the Drum Line Extravaganza at Tropicana Field. Before the big parades in Tampa and St. Petersburg Monday, boogie with a bass drum. Scores of exuberant bands from historically black colleges and universities throughout the South will be showing off their movies. These “show bands” are known for their funky drumbeats, high-stepping moves and acrobatics, making this a highlight of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. 4 p.m. Sunday. $10, $12 day of, $15 VIP from Ticketmaster and Tropicana Field box office in St. Petersburg.

The Coloplast International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament this weekend is the kind made famous by the rugged documentary Murderball. This has little in common with rugby football except for the name. And it is every bit as aggressive as the nickname leads you to believe. Friday through Sunday, you can see teams from all over the world, including Tampa’s very own wheelchair rugby team, the Tampa Generals. Games run 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. It’s free to watch at the All People’s Life Center, 6105 E Sligh Ave., Tampa.

Show your kids what an old-school record store looked like, because they still exist. Opened in December, Microgroove Records in Seminole Heights aims for that old record store feel, with vinyl records in stock. As such, it’s becoming a destination for Seminole Heights’ young, bohemian residents. On Friday there will be a free concert by pop-rocker Matt Hires at 8 p.m. New to collecting vinyl? Check out their free class at 6 p.m. Wednesday that offers a refresher on caring for your vinyl records and turntable. Microgroove Records is at 4906 N Florida Ave., Tampa.

Are you coo-coo for cocoa? We won’t tell if you take a time-out from your new year’s resolution to eat healthier. Then you can immerse yourself in all things chocolate at the second annual Festival of Chocolate at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. Give in to truffles, cakes, brownies and ice cream, much of it from area chocolate and confection companies. But those are the usual temptations. Here’s what else you’ll find during the three-day fest:
Wearable chocolate: New this year is Cocoa Couture Fashion, with dresses made out of candy wrappers and real chocolate, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Pictured at right is a sketch of a dress dress made from Reese’s wrappers, designed by Lauren Belser.
Not just for dessert: Be adventurous with chocolate barbecue sauce and meat rubs or chocolate-dipped crickets and jalapeños. You can also make chocolate lip balm or — ewww! — armpit fudge, which is actually just fudgy ingredients sealed in a plastic bag smooshed under your arm. Warm and gooey. Try your luck at Brownie Bingo. At least you can eat the pieces if you lose.
Call the Dali! They have chocolate mustaches. Stock up.
If you build it, they will eat it: The Eiffel Tower in chocolate! Well, no, but something just as breathtaking could be created in the live chocolate showpiece competition. Pastry chefs and chocolatiers will share tricks of the trade at interactive demonstrations. Plus the littlest chocoholics can create edible masterpieces in Kids-4-Chocolate.
He’s the boss of cakes: Do you dig sand castle contests? Then check out Paul Joachim, winner of the Food Network’s Cake Challenge, who will create a life-size cake sculpture of a fashion model over the course of the three-day event.
Get educated This isn’t all fun and games, people. An array of classes and demos are scheduled throughout the weekend, including “The Science of Ice Cream” (3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), “The Art of Fondant” (2 p.m. Saturday) and “Chocolate 101: How to Properly Taste Chocolate” (noon Sunday and Monday). Sign us up for that last one.
When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.
Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa.
Cost: Included in MOSI admission: $20.95, $18.95 seniors 60+, $16.95 kids 2-12. Each adult advance purchase ticket will receive $2 in chocolate coins to spend at the festival. For tickets and additional information, call (813) 438-4066 or visit

Show the kids some old-school Muppets with The Muppet Movie. Sing along to The Rainbow Connection in the  1979 version in which Kermit and his friends trek across America to find success in Hollywood, but a frog-legs merchant is after the fuzzy green dude. It’s 3 p.m. at Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. $9, $7 ages 2-12. (813) 274-8982. 

2Gasparilla: A Tampa Tradition: Because what happens at Gasparilla doesn’t necessarily stay at Gasparilla, the kickoff for this new exhibit offers an evening of Gasparilla lore Friday at the Henry B. Plant Museum. There will be tall tales and scandalous stories, featuring a celebrity panel: Bill Carson, Dick Clarke, Dick Greco and Boyd Wynne.  The display highlights pirate booty and Krewe of Gasparilla memorabilia-coronation robes, ball invitations, programs, crowns and costumes (including original gowns worn by former Gasparilla royalty), plus vintage photographs of the invasion, parade floats, pirates and royal courts. The exhibit runs through Feb. 19. The kickoff reception is at 6 p.m. Friday at the museum, 401 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Free.

Expect to see some seriously funky jewelry made from items like cat whiskers, concrete and knitted wire — with some gold, silver and gemstones, too — in From the Ridiculous to the Sublime, an exhibit created by national artists. There’s an opening exhibit from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday; the exhibit runs through March 10. Free. Florida Craftsmen Galleries, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 821-7391.

Get ready, Brandon. The  Brandon/Riverview Food Truck Rally is coming Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Winthrop Town Centre, 11201 Bloomingdale Ave. in Riverview. For info, see

Aesop’s Fables
The classic fables come to life in an interactive storytelling style. Favorites like The Lion and the Mouse, The Hare and the Tortoise and The Fox and the Grapes will be told. $8. Ruth Eckerd Hall Murray Studio Theater, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Saturday.
Character Story Time
This month features a popular “Princess Party” themed children’s story, snacks and a craft activity. $5 residents; $6.25 non-residents; $9.25 guests without rec card. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3016. 9:15 a.m. Friday.
Discover Wildlife with Children
The open classroom allows family to stop by anytime to learn about nature and animals. Free (registration required). Brooker Creek Preserve, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. (727) 453-6800. Noon-3 p.m. Saturday.
 Skate For Your Life
The showcase and competition includes music by New York’s DJ Wiz. The event will be taped for future broadcast. $13, $15 at the door, $8 ages 10 and younger. Town & Country Skateworld, 7510 Paula Drive, Brandon. 1-888-224-1733, ext. 3143. 9 p.m. Friday.
 Storm Appreciation Day
Kids are invited to have fun at the museum with crafts, activities, visits with the Thunderbug and an appearance by Lightning alumni Stan Neckar. Free to STM card holders and anyone in their jersey. Great Explorations Children’s Museum, 1925 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 821-8992. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Wee-time at Weedon
Includes story related crafts, games and activities. This week features Jim Arnosky’s book Slow Down for Manatees. 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.

Bike Safari
Get ready for a bicycle exploration of the 245-acre nature preserve where there’s a good chance you’ll see alligators, bald eagles, gopher tortoises and ospreys. Two rides available for different skill levels. The “Adventure Trek” is for those with cycling experience and mountain bikes (9-10:30 a.m.). The “Leisure Ride” is better suited for children and those without “off road friendly” bikes (10:30-11:30 a.m.). Sun block and bug spray are suggested. $5 (includes preserve admission). Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 9 and 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

5The Supervillains: One of the most popular reggae-ska bands, their appearances at Jannus Live are usually mobbed. The band is returning to the courtyard Friday for a $5 show, with tickets available at Detroit Liquors and Daddy Kool Records. See them at 7 p.m. at 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg.

Photo: From 2011 Treasure Island Kite Festival,  Jackson Kwilecki, 13 months, of St. Petersburg is mesmerized by all the sights and sounds. Photo by MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Sharon Kennedy Wynne

[Last modified: Thursday, January 12, 2012 11:54am]


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