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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



butterfly.jpgSpring is here and the weather is still bearable. And this week we have lots of outside events that are easy on the wallet, from a parent's night out while the kids are around the campfire to a balloon festival on the edge of the Everglades that sounds road-trip worthy. We have that and more in this week's roundup of free and cheap things to do with kids:

Friday is Parent’s Night Out: Kid’s Night Outside at a nature preserve. Mom and Dad can go out on a date while kids in grades K-5 are entertained with supervised night hikes, crafts and a campfire with s’mores. $15. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 6-10 p.m. Friday.

Seminole Casino Immokalee is launching Balloons Over Paradise Festival, a road-trip-worthy new festival at Immokalee Regional Airport with more than 30 outrageous hot air balloons taking to the early morning sky with a balloon glow set to a musical score.  With sunrise and sunset balloon glows, non-stop music,  a children’s activity village and Grammy-nominated country artist John Anderson (Swingin’) giving a free show Saturday. RVs and campers welcome. Free; $5 parking. Immokalee Regional Airport, 165 Airpark Blvd., Immokalee. Toll-free 1-800-218-0007. 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Saturday, 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

In honor of Earth Day (April 22), Craftsman House’s art show elevates recycling into art at the Art for the Earth Opening Reception . In addition to art made from recycled materials and environmental themes, the opening reception Saturday includes blues music played on cigar box guitars and photography by Rob Rowen of Nuance Galleries. The show runs through May 6. The reception on Saturday is at 5 p.m. at Craftsman House, 2955 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free.

You can get a cure for your spring fever at the USF Spring Plant Festival. They will have a myriad choices for spring plants, from crotons to camellias. More than 70 vendors and plant clubs will be at this 23rd annual festival, with garden-related supplies and art, tool sharpening, a new children’s craft area and music from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the USF Botanical Gardens, 12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa. $5, kids under 12 and members free.

A free movie in the park? That’s the name of the ... that’s the name of the ... that’s the name of the game! The classic Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello beach party movie Beach Blanket Bingo is cheese-tastic and full of cameos including Paul Lynde, Don Rickles, Buster Keaton and a pre-Dynasty Linda Evans as aspiring singer Sugar Cane. The movie is being shown free in Dunedin’s Pioneer Park on Friday  in conjunction with the Friday Wine/Art Walk. So follow the title lyric and “Take a blanket, made for two now, add a boy and a girl ...” The movie begins at dusk.

Pros roll into town for Spring Roll. DVS and Matrix present this all-ages skateboard contest with prizes, a product toss and free barbecue Saturday. But first, at 6 p.m. Friday, you can skate with pros like Torey Pudwill and Luis Tolentino ($10, free to watch). Open practice begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, and the event begins at 10:30. $20 advance, $25 day of. Skatepark of Tampa, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. (813) 621-6793.

Think green, kids. EcoFest is a celebration of the Tampa Bay businesses, organizations and individuals dedicated to sustainability. There’s live music, workshops and demonstrations. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. Free. Learning Gate Community School, 16215 Hanna Road, Lutz. (813) 274-8511.

And now for date night. Leo, Kate ... and you? To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, what else would you do besides take a little boat trip? Come dressed in costume — couldn’t hurt to add a life vest — for the Yacht StarShip’s Titanic Tribute Cruise at 7 p.m. Saturday, with personalized boarding passes, an authentic menu and ship staff dressed in period costumes. There will be a mini display of replicas of Titanic artifacts and a moment of silence with red flares on the Promenade Deck to mark when the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg. $69.95, $29.95 children. Yacht StarShip, 603 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 223-7999.

Other family-friendly events this week:
 Character Story Time
 This month’s theme is Superhero for story time, snacks and a craft for children 5 and younger. $5 residents; $6.25 non-residents; $9.25 guests w/out a rec card. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3016. 9:15 a.m. Friday.
 Dexter McCluster Football Clinic
Join Kansas City Chief running back (and Largo native) Dexter McCluster as he supervises local coaches giving football tips to area youth. A parent or legal guardian must sign a participation waiver. Free. Largo Sports Complex, 1640 McMullen Booth Road, Largo. (727) 365-0044. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Discover the Preserve
Features “Touch-a-Truck,” plant displays, a lady bug release, nature crafts for kids and the opportunity to build a craft out of wood. Free. James E. Grey Preserve, 6938 Plathe Road, New Port Richey. (727) 841-4560. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday.
Family Clue Finders: A Game of Scientific Suspense
Follow scientific clues to discover who did what, when and where. $25 team of four or less; $20 members team of four or less. Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000. 1-3 p.m. Sunday.
 Lego Building
This month’s theme is “robots” in a program that helps children learn about construction, programming and teamwork skills while creating their own Lego masterpieces. $7. Southwest Recreation Complex and Pool, 13120 Vonn Road, Largo. (727) 518-3125. 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday.
 Once Upon a Mattress
Comedians and musicians from the Patel Conservatory Youth Theatre put their own spin on the classic fairy tale The Princess and the Pea. $15. Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. (813) 229-7827. 7 p.m. today-Friday, 2 and 7 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. Seminole Mall, 11201 Park Blvd., Seminole. (727) 386-4502. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
 Swing Into Spring
With live music, kids activities,  appearances by former Major League Baseball players and food/beer samples. Free; $10 food/drink. The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. (813) 994-2242. 6-8:30 p.m. today.
 Wee-time at Weedon
This portion features Nancy Loewen’s book Tiny Workers: Ants in Your Backyard and includes crafts and games. 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.
You Can’t Do That at the Library
All the library rules are being tossed for this party with corn hole games, miniature golf, pizza, ice cream sundaes, drinks and entertainment. Whispering is forbidden. $10, $5 ages 3-12. Palm Harbor Library, 2330 Nebraska Ave., Palm Harbor. (727) 784-3332. 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

Free movies outside:

Movies in the Park
Featuring Dolphin Tale, the movie made in Clearwater about Winter the dolphin. Themed activities begin at 7 p.m. and the movie begins at dark. Refreshments will be sold. Free. Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 586-7415. 7 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 Johnny English Reborn, rated PG, and Saturday features Legally Blonde, rated PG-13. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Shows start around dusk.
Tierra Verde Movie Night
This month’s free movie is the PG-13 rated film The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Downtown Tierra Verde Parking Lot, 1110 Pinellas Bayway S, No. 101, St. Petersburg. (727) 216-9661. 8 p.m. today.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, April 12, 2012 11:36am]


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