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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



springfling.jpgThere's lots to choose from this week, not even including all the St. Patrick's Day fun. We've got a cool chalk art fest, an American Idol favorite at a free show, a Mutt Strut for the dog and that really useful engine Thomas the train pulls into town.

When sidewalk chalk art comes our way, we have to see it sooner, not later, since it isn’t designed to last very long. But, oh is it worth it to see sketches become beautiful, colorful pieces of art. The transformation starts Friday at the Fourth Annual Chalk Walk Art Festival in Hyde Park Village, 742 S Village Circle, Tampa. These richly detailed drawings will take shape throughout the weekend and should be mostly finished by Sunday around lunchtime. The Chalk Walk is one of the most kid-friendly events around, with lots of activities designed to encourage creativity. Sponsored by Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts, it will feature about 40 artists. The fun starts at 8:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and lasts until 9 p.m., and it continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free. For info, go to or call (813) 221-2787.

American Idol finalist and hometown son Michael Lynche headlines Saturday at the Gulf Beaches Spring Fling. But the concert is the only draw, there's also  carnival rides, live entertainment and food and craft vendors. Free. Noon-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 12-8 p.m. Sunday. Treasure Island Community Park, One Park Place & 106th Ave, Treasure Island. (727) 547-4575 ext 237.

It’s a spring break edition of Clearwater’s monthly Blast Friday block party. The headliner is pop-rocker Ryan Star, who gained fame as a contestant on CBS TV’s reality show Rock Star: Supernova before his major label debut album 11:59 hit the Top 10 on Billboard’s Rock Albums chart this year. The family-friendly street celebration also will have Junior Doctor, a Cocoa Beach guitarist who delivers energetic live shows, and Clearwater native Lauran Irion, who co-stars in the new ABC show GCB. There will also be a food truck rally, drinks and contests. The street fair begins at 5:30 p.m., with entertainment outside until 10 p.m. in the 400 block of the Cleveland Street district in downtown Clearwater.

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday this year, we will be awash in green beer, green parade floats and even the river is turning green in Tampa . For once, the popular Rough Riders parade in Ybor City on Saturday falls on the holiday it celebrates, and more than a few bars are pulling out all the stops and creating a block party for St. Patrick’s Day, such as Durty Nelly’s in St. Pete. There’s a new party in Curtis Hixon Park with a green river, as well as the usual Garrison Channel party as it turns green. Now go round up your green outfits and check for a complete roundup, check out our list of the more family friendly options.

This year on St. Patrick’s Day, don’t be so selfish. Instead of loaded up on green beer and cabbage (not a good combination anyway; just trust us), why not give your four-legged friend a little four-leafed luck of the Irish? Head to Largo for the 20th annual Mutt Strut and take your best friend for a walk along Eagle Lake Park’s nicely paved trail. Vendors will be on hand with pet games, demonstrations, adoptable dogs and Wag Bags. Donations support Humane Society of Pinellas. 1800 Keene Road, Largo. (727) 797-7722. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Get your Engine runnin’ and take a 25-minute ride on a full sized, 15-ton replica of Thomas the Tank Engine to meet Sir Topham Hatt on this Day Out With Thomas. Activities include storytelling, live music, miniature train rides, magic shows, inflatables and building with Mega Blocks. Rides depart numerous times daily. $14-$18. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Florida Railroad Museum, 12210 83rd St. E, Parrish. (877) 869-0800.

Calling all Instagrammers! Photo enthusiasts across Tampa Bay join together for Photography Day Tampa Bay, a day of photo education and a scavenger hunt. $35, $10 students. Florida Botanical Gardens, 12211 Walsingham Road, Largo. (727) 596-7822. 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Watch the night skies with some help from experts this week. Friday at 6:30 p.m. is Astronomy Night at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, with the St. Pete Astronomy Club bringing along their power gazers. It’s $3, $1.50 children at the preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. On Saturday night, MOSI will have its telescopes and astronomy experts on hand to show the universe up close for SkyWatch. It’s free in front of the science museum, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. All weather permitting.

The Fearless Friday parties at St. Pete's J.W. Cate Recreation Center in Northwest Park is a fun night for kids in grades grades 2nd – 5th.  There's a wide array ofactivities, sports tournaments, dance contests and dance room games led by a live DJ, a video game room, creative arts and crafts projects and food experiences. Concessions available for 50 cents to $1. It's held every Friday through May from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. And it's just $6 per child. Call (727) 893-7751 for more details. The youth center is at 5801 22nd Ave N.

chili.jpgIt’s hot times in Pinellas Park this weekend. Firefighters plan to turn up the heat with chili while other residents celebrate a retiring mayor during two of the city’s most popular festivals: The Pinellas Park Chili Blaze and Country in the Park. This will be the 13th year for the Chili Blaze. Sample wristbands are $8; admission is free 6 to 11 p.m. Friday. Country in the Park, featuring the Kentucky Headhunters, is 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at England Brothers Park, 5010 81st Ave. N, Pinellas Park. For info, see

The Strawberry Festival is gone, but Wish Farms in Plant City still wants you to come over. The farm is hosting a strawberry U-Pick from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to benefit the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. Get a flat for just $4 (That’s eight quarts!) at Wish Farms is located at 2600 Sparkman Road, Plant City. (813) 752-5111,

At the X Etnies, you can skate with professional and amateur skateboarders from the Etnies team (Andrew Brophy, Cairo Foster, Jose Rojo, Nick Garcia, Willow and Tyler Bledsoe) at a benefit for Skatepark of Tampa’s Boards for Bros program. Bring old skateboard equipment to donate and get in free from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. There’s also free food and drinks with a donation at Skatepark, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa.

More family events:

Dream Big
Roger Day’s show encourages kids to sing loud, jump high and dream big. He uses Schoolhouse Rock-type music, colorful imagery and verbal gymnastics to engage his audience. $8. Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.
Family Art Night
Families can get together for pizza, art and a movie about printmaker, painter, collage artist Romare Bearden. $40 (two kids and two adults); $5 additional child. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-7872. 6-8:30 p.m. Friday.
Family Fun Days
Kids can learn about artists and their mistakes in this Westfield family program. Free. This portion features several stories including Pop Warhol’s Top by Julie Appel and The Magical Garden of Monet by Laurence Anholt. Then, kids can enjoy a snack while they put their pop art know-how to work and create pop art top hats or tissue-paper flowers at Westfield Citrus Park , 8021 Citrus Park Town Center, Tampa. (813) 9264644. 4 p.m. today, At Brandon Town Center, the event starts with story time  then, kids can enjoy a sweet treat while they create a tissue-paper flower  4-7 p.m. today.
Graff-Street Art
As an individual and in a group, kids ages 10-16 will explore the elements of graffiti style, sketching walls, bricks to pixels, tape art, history and use of tools. Sessions focus on the early hip-hop culture. $25. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-7872. 1-4 p.m. Saturday.
Humdinger Fest
The Blueberry Patch throws its annual afternoon and evening party with live music by numerous area bands, live art, craft vendors, a kids’ craft area and food. $10, 12 and younger fre at 4923 20th Ave. S, Gulfport. (727) 415-8531. noon-9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Hunger Games Party
In celebration of the upcoming Hunger Games movie, the folks at the library are throwing  party open to all fans ages 10-18 years old with a book discussion as well as food, games and fun. Registration in advance at Tarpon Springs Public Library, 138 E Lemon St., Tarpon Springs. (727) 943-4922. 2 p.m. Saturday.
Kid Crafternoons
Kids ages 6-12 will learn basic design principles and hands-on art methods. $25. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-7872. 1-4 p.m. Friday.
Kids Dining Etiquette
Kids ages 5 to 15 can learn the ABCs of table manners in this Dine Like a Diplomat etiquette class with Patricia Rossi. $147, includes four course meal and materials. Capital Grille, Bay Street at International Plaza, 2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa. (727) 375-0375. 2-5 p.m. Sunday.
Magritte and Me
Mark “The Balloon Guy” Byrne presents a multi-media show combining surrealism, comedy, balloons, art and magic. $23, $19 members, $21 seniors (advance); $25, $21 members, $23 seniors (day of). Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa. (813) 269-1310. 8 p.m. Friday.
Nature’s Elements
Kids take a walk in the preserve to explore nature through crafts and activities. Best for ages 4-7 $10. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Preschool Art
Children ages 4-6 can explore drawing, painting, clay and fiber art.  $20. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-7872. 10 a.m.-noon Friday.
Teens Behind the Scenes
This monthly program for students examines the inner workings of Pinellas County government.  March’s session, “Most Wanted,” takes a tour of the Pinellas County jail. Free (registration required). Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center, 14250 49th St. N, Clearwater. (727) 582-2656. 2:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Tarpon Springs Barbecue Festival
A culinary celebration  with live music and vendors. Free (food and drink additional). Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, 20 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs. (727) 776-7261. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
Indian Rocks Beach Green Fest
The fifth annual community festival with eco-friendly vendors selling plants and natural products,  how-to workshops, a childrens’ area, dancing, live music , raffles, beer and wine for sale. Free admission. In the field behind COTI School, corner of 24th Avenue and First Street, Indian Rocks Beach. (727) 667-0019. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
St. Paul’s Annual Festival
The annual festival includes bingo, carnival rides, games, crafts, food, dancing and live music. No admission; $1 ride/food tickets. St. Paul Catholic Church, 1800 12th St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-3481. 5-10 p.m. today, noon-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 12:30-10 p.m. Sunday.
Spring and Fall Free For All
Bring lawn chairs, blankets and snacks for an outdoor viewing of The Goonies. Free. Sims Park, 6341 Bank St., New Port Richey. (727) 967-6726. 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Sunset Cinema at Pier 60
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features the PG-rated film How To Eat Fried Worms, and Saturday features the PG-13 rated film Blue Crush 2. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Free. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 8:49am]


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