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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



fireworks.jpgWhile we try to hear ourselves over the buzzing of race cars at the Grand Prix, we find there's lots of free and cheap family fun to be found this week. But don't forget tonight's Illuminated Night Parade in downtown St. Pete that kicks off race weekend. There will be floats and beads and it will be followed by fireworks. The parade starts at 7:30 p.m. at Central Avenue and Fifth Street N.

And here's more wallet-friendly things to do:

Check the Campfires in the Park, where you bring lawn chairs and blankets and find a spot by the campfire for a family-friendly night Friday at Largo Central Park. At dusk, they’ll be showing the inspirational movie Soul Surfer, based on a true story about a teenage surfer girl who goes back into the ocean after losing an arm in a shark attack. Drinks and concessions will be available for purchase at the park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. Free.

The Tampa Bay Seafood Festival this weekend will have great seafood and live music by “The Sauce Boss” Bill Wharton, Les Dudek, the Bobby Friss Band, Johnny G. Lyon Band, Shakes Society, Tampa Taiko Japanese Drumming, KJ and the Ballistics and Mo’ Gravy. Also an interactive Road to London Fan Zone with meet and greets with Olympic and Paralympic athletes and Team USA giveaways. Proceeds benefit the Friends of Tampa Recreation for aquatic programs. Free admission. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

For date night: The free Police Unity Tour Benefit Concert will have Robin Zander, lead singer of Cheap Trick, debuting new songs from his forthcoming country album at this free show Friday at Jannus Live with the Greg Billings Band and Pitbull Toddler led by Cowhead from 102.5-FM. Beverage sales and concession proceeds will go to raise money to send a dozen local officers to the Police Unity Tour, an annual bike ride for police officers that culminates in Washington, D.C., every May for Police Memorial Week. The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday at Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg.

You'll be amazed at the art at the Hyde Park Village Art Festival. This juried outdoor art showcase features 150 artists from 30 states, showing works in a vast array of media including paintings, sculptures, photography, ceramics, glass, handmade jewelry and mixed media.  Free. Hyde Park Village, 1621 W Snow Circle, Tampa. (561) 746-6615. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

A nine-day Chasco Fiesta is a festival featuring a Native American Pow Wow, carnival midway, festival food, vendors, live music nightly and other events that raise money for numerous local nonprofits. Held in and around Sims Park in downtown New Port Richey through March 31, the festival managed to survive steep budget cuts this year that forced organizers to shave two days off the once 11-day event. Wednesday’s lineup features “A Grateful Nation” — a concert hosted by the Sand Soldiers of America to honor the military, first responders and their families. A full schedule of events is available at Free admission, fee for food and rides. Sims Park, 6341 Bank St., New Port Richey. (877) 424-2726. 5-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 1-8 p.m. Sunday, 5-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday.

The Tampa Bay Pro Rodeo is a full-blown professional rodeo featuring bull riding and steer wrestling. Cheer on the smallest cowboys and cowgirls in the Harper & Harper Stick Horse Rodeo.  Entry fees in each event are $7. $15, $18, or $30 per person. Parking is $5 per car or $10 per RV. Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (813) 621-7821. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

If cold-blooded creatures are your thing, the  Florida International Reptile Show is this weekend. Repticon show features everything related to reptiles, amphibians, exotic animals, raffles, seminars and children’s activities. $10, $5 ages 5-12, 4 and younger free. Teachers free with ID. Parking: $5 per car, $10 per bus or RV. Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (863) 268-4273. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

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

The Pinellas County Fair kicks off this week at a new location. More than 30 carnival rides including a giant Ferris wheel, live music on three stages, fair food, beer and vendors. $6, $5 ages 5-12, four and younger free. Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg. (727) 346-8032. 5-11 p.m. Wednesday through April 1

Other family friendly events this weekend inlclude:

Breakfast with the Penguins
Learn about African black-footed penguins while enjoying a breakfast buffet. Then, get a close look at and possibly even touch a penguin. $39, $34 children. Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 273-4000. 8-9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Fossil Fest
The Tampa Bay Fossil Club brings the Ice Age back to Florida with their annual show featuring displays of fossils, gems and other artifacts. Also features programs on hunting for fossils and preservation techniques, fossil vendors and a kids “fossil pit” where children dig in a sand pit for fossils. $6, 12 and younger free. Florida State Fairgrounds Special Events Center, 4802 N U.S. 301, Tampa. (813) 909-9358. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
LEGO Robotics Workshop
Kids in grades 5 through 8 can construct and control robots using high-tech electronics, sensors and lots of Lego parts. $25, $20 members. Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000. 1-4 p.m. Sunday.
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.
Prom Dress Distribution
Needy young women can get a prom dress for $1 at the Belle of the Ball Project dress distribution. $1 donation appreciated. Seminole Mall, 11201 Park Blvd., Seminole. (727) 386-4502. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Summer Splash
Find information on summer camps and classes in the bay area, with music, games and activities. Free. Patel Conservatory, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 222-1002. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Think Pink
A monthly program for girls in grades 4 through 6. This month’s topic is “Parents and Respect.” $12.50, $10 residents. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3016. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Tiny Tot Olympics
Includes basketball toss, bean bag toss, bucket relay, football throw, Hula Hoop relay, obstacle course, parachute games, sack race and soccer dribble. $2 per vehicle. Lettuce Lake Park, 6920 E Fletcher Ave., Tampa. (813) 672-1120. 10 a.m.-noon Wednesday.
Wee-time at Weedon
This week features Nancy Lowen’s book Busy Buzzers: Bees in Your Backyard, which discusses the many types of bees in the world. Includes activities. 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.
Bay Area Renaissance Festival

This weekend’s theme at this replica of a 16th century village features High Seas Adventure with a royal fencing competition in the round, High Seas market, tattoo competition, pub crawl, Jack Sparrow look-a-like competition, grape stomp, walk the plank, swab the deck, pirate “aye” eating competition (Scotch Eggs), pieces of 8, wine tasting and vow renewals. Festival Friday is a day for school students to live history instead of studying it in books. (Special rates apply. $11.95 Adult chaperones/grades 7-12, $6.95 grades 1-6.) Advance: $15.95, $7.95 ages 5-12. At the gate: $18.95, $14.95 seniors, $10.95 ages 5-12; $10 per pet (pet registration form required for entry). Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 983-0111. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Clearwater Pet Festival
Activities include a pet parade and contests with awards, a Clearwater Police K-9 demonstration, animal rescue groups, vendors, entertainment and food. Sandy Clark and Twig, the skateboarding Sheltie, will appear. Free. East Avenue and Cleveland Street, Clearwater. (727) 562-4044. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
Fourth Friday Food Truck Festival
This street festival brings a dozen food trucks to Corey Avenue, accompanied by live music by Freddie Mack and the Dixie Express and a visit by the Rocket Ship Car from Cleveland, Ohio. Corey Avenue, St. Pete Beach. (727) 498-8778. 5-9 p.m. Friday.
Oldsmar Days
Oldsmar’s longest running festival features fiery foods, collector cars, classic rock music, carnival, parade and dozens of vendors. Band lineup for this year includes Greg Billings, The Black Honkeys, Dive Bar Stalkers, Stormbringer, Trigger City Trio and Cross Eyed Larry. Free admission and parking. R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive W, Oldsmar. (813) 854-1237. 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday.
Sun 'n’ Fun Fly-In
It’s all about planes and flight at this annual event featuring aerobatic performances, display aircraft, aviation-related forums and workshops, a youth activities area and performances by the USAF Thunderbirds (at 4 p.m. March 30-April 1 only). Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, 3900 Don Emerson Drive, Lakeland. (863) 644-2431. 1-5 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Sing-Along
Donny Osmond stars in this live sing-along presentation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s story of a favored son who is betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. $15. Park Place Stadium 16, 7200 U.S. 19 North, Pinellas Park. (727) 525-7777. Also being shown at Hyde Park Cinebistro in Tampa, Woodland Square 20 in Oldsmar, Citrus Stadium 20 in Tampa and Regency 20 in Brandon. 8 p.m. Monday.
Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure Live
Trace the heroic and harrowing travels of the early Pilgrims. $12.50. Park Place Stadium 16, 7200 U.S. 19 North, Pinellas Park. (727) 525-7777. Also showing at Woodland Square 20 in Oldsmar, Citrus Stadium 20 in Tampa, Hyde Park Cinebistro in Tampa and Grove 16 in Wesley Chapel. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Sunset Cinema at Pier 60
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features Puss In Boots, rated PG-13, and Saturday features The Three Musketeers, rated PG-13. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Shows start at dusk.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 4:38pm]


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