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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



moviefloat.jpgWe've got more than 60 Easter events in the Tampa Bay area, from egg hunts for kids to making your own glass peeps to community sunrise services. We also have more than 100 spring festivals ranging from live music to livestock at the county fair. But it's also the start of baseball season and the return of poolside movies. We have all that and more in this week's list of free and cheap things to do with your kids:

A sold-out Tropicana Field will be rocking Friday as the Tampa Bay Rays open the season against the New York Yankees at 3:10 p.m. Lest you’ve forgotten the Rays’ amazing clinch last year,  the 2011 American League Wild Card banner will be raised to the leftfield catwalk. There will be a block party for opening day on Friday.  Two blocks around Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill on Central Avenue — right across from the Trop — will be closed to traffic to celebrate the Rays with live music, food, children’s activities and giveaways. The road closes an hour before the party, which starts at noon Friday, and reopens an hour after. Free. If you go to Saturday's game, American Idol competitor and Tampa resident Shannon Magrane will sing the national anthem at Saturday’s game. Shannon, a sophomore at Blake High School, had been a fan fave on Idol but was sent packing last month, one shy of the Top 10.  Game starts at 7:10 p.m. Toll-free 1-888-326-7297.  At Sunday’s game, the first 10,000 kids ages 14 and younger get a free Raymond Cowbell. That’s right: 10,000 more cowbells for Sunday’s game. No word yet on whether there’s an aspirin or earplug giveaway for the first 10,000 parents who come through the gates. Game starts at 1:40 p.m.

As long as we are talking baseball, we can take it to the pool. Flick and Float is back and this week its a baseball movie as you float in the pool at Largo's Southwest Recreation Complex. There were be baseball-themed activites before the 2009 movie Perfect Game. Free prizes from the Rays go to the first 150 people who arrive, and free hot dogs are available while supplies last. Based on a true story, Perfect Game follows a group of boys from the Mexican city of Monterrey, who become the first non-U.S. team to win the Little League World Series. If the Rays beat the Yanks, that will make for the perfect night. Activities start at 5:30 p.m. Friday; movie starts about 9. Don’t forget to bring a floatie. $5, $4 residents. (727) 518-3126.

easterbasket.jpgThis link takes you to all our Easter events but we picked 3 egg hunts for kids that sound extra fun:
Bunny Extravaganza and Egg Drop
The Easter Bunny takes to the sky in a helicopter to drop 25,000 prize-filled eggs. The Cypress Point Community Church has 38 acres to use, and it plans three egg drops, at 10:45 a.m., 11:45 and 12:45 p.m.   with children divided by age. The copter will drop the eggs — but not over the kids! — and then the hunt begins. Meanwhile, the church is throwing a festival with bounce houses, a human foosball game with players strapped to a pole just like the tabletop version.  It’s free at Cypress Point Community Church, 15820 Morris Bridge Road, Tampa. (813) 986-9100. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Weeki Wachee’s Wacky Egg Hunt
The Easter Bunny gets some Florida-style helpers: mermaids. At the Buccaneer Bay Water Park event, toddlers up to age 3 hunt at 11 a.m., and ages 4-6 hunt at noon at the Kiddie Pool. Ages 7-10 hunt at 1 p.m. and ages 11-13 at 2 p.m. on the beachfront. Bring baskets. Included with attraction admission: $13, $8 ages 6-12, 5 and younger free. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. (352) 592-5656. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Underwater Egg Hunt
Trade in those Easter bonnets for swimsuits. Hundreds of eggs will be floating (or sinking) in the St. Pete Beach community pool. Stick around after the hunt for open swimming and water slides. $4. St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach. (727) 363-9245. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

You could show up in shorts and flip-flops for the screening of this classic Southern epic Gone With the Wind in Pioneer Park in Dunedin, but frankly, my dear, that’s not nearly as much fun as dressing up as your favorite character. They are encouraging costumes like hoop skirts (or even better, craft a dress out of the curtains just like Scarlett). Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and a picnic basket of snacks to join the fun at 7 p.m. Friday at Main Street and Douglas Avenue in Dunedin. Free.

We have two good choices for taking your dog out on the town. Up first at 10 a.m. Saturday is Pawfest at Largo Central Park (where the kids can also get free rides on the miniature train this weekend), with a carnival for the entire family, as well as dog games and products to pamper your pooch at 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. Then in Gulfport, join Pet Pride, billed as the “gayest day of the year for our four-legged friends.” Activities include the crowning of Pet Pride king and queen, live entertainment, pet-friendly vendors, auctions, raffles, prizes and the Big Gay Pet Parade. It runs 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday on Beach Boulevard in Gulfport. Free. Benefits Pets 4 Dorothy and St. Pete Pride.

It’s the First Friday of the month so downtown St. Petersburg will be hopping with its lively block party at Central Avenue and Second Street N with the Tempests playing live music. Then wander a block over to Jannus Live where there’s a free show by Thomas Wynn and the Believers, a band that showcases the young, soulfully voiced siblings Thomas and Olivia Wynn backed by a bluesy, rustic rock band. The show starts at 8 p.m. at 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg.

Stop complaining about the snowbirds clogging traffic and look at some real snowbirds, the singing kind, at a guided Birdwatching Walk by the Clearwater Audubon Society in the lovely Moccasin Lake Nature Park in Clearwater. They will be pointing out a variety of songbirds, water birds and raptors in this unique oak hammock. They get started at 8 a.m. Saturday at the park, 2750 Park Trail Lane, Clearwater. $3.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the American Stage In the Park show this year, The Rocky Horror Show, contains mature language and themes. But for older kids or a date night, this could be a fun one to check out. We could explain the plot — newlyweds Brad and Janet get sidetracked on the way to visit an old college professor and end up at Dr. Frank-n-Furter’s home for a scandalous night — but here’s the thing: You either “get” The Rocky Horror Show or you don’t. The ultimate audience partici-(SAY IT!)-pation cult movie from 1975 gets a cultural makeover — we hope — as American Stage presents it as its annual “In the Park” offering. Expect to see your neighbors screaming the lines back at the stage, covering their heads with newspapers and firing water pistols into the air during the show. (If these references sound totally foreign to you, that means you’re a “virgin” — something you’d better keep to yourself because seasoned vets like to haze first-timers.) At the very least, learn the lyrics to Time Warp before heading to Demens Landing. (“It’s just a jump to the left . . .”) Previews start Wednesday, and it opens April 13 with a gala. There are a slew of ticket options, including some seats onstage, so see for details. Demens Landing, 100 First Ave. SE, St. Petersburg. (727) 823-7529.

It would be a daunting task, even for theater professionals. But a group of high school teens pulled it off. Less than three months ago, 11 students from the Patel Conservatory’s Youth Theater started creating a musical from scratch. They wrote the story, developed the characters and wrote the songs. They designed the set, lights, costumes and sound. They assigned roles and started rehearsals. Local audiences will see the finished product when Caught! A Culinary Comedy of Confusion makes its world premiere tonight (Thursday) at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. The students are part of the Patel Conservatory Youth Theater’s “Do It Yourself” program. It has been around for a few years, but this is the first time the students have started with a blank page and a bare stage to create a musical. In the past, they used pre-existing songs and other elements to get a running start. For Caught!, they started with Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. They took key plot points (mistaken identity) and used the plot structure as a template, but came up with everything else themselves. The resulting show concerns rival families with a history of antagonism who own rival restaurants. Caught! A Culinary Comedy of Confusion is at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center. $15. (813) 229-7827,

Other family events this week

Adventures of Eco-Man
A mild-mannered reporter transforms into the superhero Eco-Man, teaching environmental awareness. $7, $6 member, $24 family four-pack. Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa. (813) 269-1310. 10:15 and 11:30 a.m. today.
  Breakfast with Dali for Families
Monthly docent led tours introduce Salvador Dali and the Dali Museum to families with children. The interactive tour highlights Dali paintings and other works that especially appeal to children. A Spanish-themed breakfast buffet and hands-on activities follow the tour. $21, $10 ages 6-12; $10, $5 ages 6-12 members. Dali Museum, One Dali Blvd. (Bayshore Drive SE and Fifth Avenue SE), St. Petersburg. (727) 823-3767. 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday.
Build by the Bay
Families can build a robot of the future in an interactive Lego play area and meet local Lego hobby builders. Also, area experts will conduct robotic demonstrations throughout the day. Included with museum admission: $15, $12.50 military/seniors, $9.50 children, under 1 free. Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861. Noon-4 p.m. Saturday.
Going Coastal
This indoor activity for all ages teaches about the fish common to our gulf coast area. Bring a plain white T-shirt for a fish painting project. This portion, “Invasive Marine Organisms,” is about the biology, natural history and the threats of lionfish, Asian green mussels and other organisms invading the Gulf of Mexico. Free (registration required). Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 582-2100. 10 a.m.-noon Saturday.
Tiny Tot Theme Party
The event is a monthly themed party for preschoolers ages 3 to 5 years old. Parents are encouraged to stay and enjoy the games, crafts and activities with their little ones. Registration is required. $5 per child. Southwest Recreation Complex and Pool, 13120 Vonn Road, Largo. (727) 518-3125. 11 a.m.-noon today.
Make a Difference Fishing Tournament
A fishing tournament for children with disabilities also includes art projects, fire/rescue demonstrations and an awards ceremony. Free. Largo Central Park Nature Preserve, 150 Highland Ave., Largo. (727) 587-6740, ext. 5014. 6 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Spring Festival
Includes touch-a-truck, music, games, bounce houses, make-and-take craft and pottery stations, community center demonstrations and the “Jimmy Meatballs” food truck. Free. St. Pete Beach Community Center and Horan Park, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach. (727) 363-9245. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Swing Into Spring
Live music, kids activities, special guest appearances by former Major League Baseball players and food/beer samples for adults. Proceeds from food and drink benefits the Jason Ackerman and Toby Hall Foundations. Free; $10 food/drink. The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. (813) 994-2242. 6-8:30 p.m. today.
Ugly Duckling
Now Stages Productions puts their spin on this childhood classic for a new family musical presentation. $7.50, $6.50 children, $22 family four pack. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6793. 11 a.m. Saturday.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 2:14pm]


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