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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

freeart.jpgLots of events center around the date this weekend. You have Star Wars Day on Friday (As in, "May the 4th be with you") and both Cinco de Mayo (May 5) and the Kentucky Derby fall on Saturday. Luckily we have lots of wallet-friendly ways to fill out your dayplanner, no matter what the date, from Free Comic Book Day to family events in the local parks to lots of love for the humble blueberry.

Look sharp if you're in downtown St. Petersburg on Friday. Free art that's yours for the taking will be randomly placed around town. Free Art Friday aims to promote artists by making their work available to anyone who is interested.

comicbook.jpgEvery year on the first Saturday in May, comic book stores across the country open their doors for Free Comic Book Day to give away comic books, but they also host art activities, meet and greets with artists, author signings and, of course, costumed characters aplenty. Follow the trail of superheroes to Yancy Street Comics, 9409 U.S. 19 in Port Richey, as well as Heroes’ Haven Comics in Tampa, Emerald City in Seminole and Clearwater, Wonder Water in Clearwater and North Tampa Branch Library in Tampa. Activities and times vary by location. See the website for all participating stores.

The special edition of the free music series Rock the Park will feature the tbt* Ultimate Local Artists of 2012. This is the sixth year the editors of the paper, which is published by the Tampa Bay Times, are presenting the top 10 Tampa Bay area musicians. They chose to spotlight the hybrid sounds of indie alt-rockers Drake and Sofia, alt-country blues players the Groves, country punk Crash Mitchell and Tampa’s favorite shoegazers Sleepy Vikings, as well as several other hot acts making sonic waves throughout the Tampa Bay area’s live music scene. They take the stage at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. In addition to live music, there will be food and beverages on site. Free.

Saturday is Kentucky Derby day! Grab a big fancy hat and a strong minty drink because the “most exciting two minutes in sports” is the centerpiece of Kentucky Derby parties around the Tampa Bay area. You can actually wager on the race at the watch parties at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg or the Tampa Bay Downs horse track in Tampa. Post time is 6:30 p.m. Saturday but both gambling meccas open at 10 a.m. for early races, with a bar stocked with mint juleps. Free admission.

Although most Cinco de Mayo parties are decidedly adult events (here's a roundup of all of them in the bay area) there are some family friendly options. There's a street festival and dance party Saturday at 4 p.m. in front of Casa Tina's, 365 Main St., Dunedin. And the Clearwater East Library is hosting a party starting at 2 p.m. Saturday with Hispanic games, family-friendly music and crafts.

Two nature parks this weekend combine story time with some time outside for kids. Saturday at 10:30 a.m. is Stories in the Park at McGough Nature Park, 11901 146th St. N, Largo. Join park rangers for a morning story, a hike through the park and snacks with your kids for $3 per family. Every Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. it’s time for Jungle Boogie with kids at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. Children ages 3 to 4 can join in the fun with a nature story, crafts and outdoor exploration. It’s $2.50. (727) 893-7326.

For an uplifting ride, check out more than 100 special needs equestrian experts will ride in the Special Olympics Equestrian Championships, featuring dressage, English equitation, stock seat equitation, working trails, pole bending, barrel racing, showman ship and a sports drill team. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Saturday. Free. Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (352) 243-9536.

'Avengers’ fans, activate! The Safety Harbor Comic Con is today through Saturday with contests, drawing and graphic novel classes, an Artist’s Alley art reception and more. Friday’s schedule includes a basic cartooning workshop for teens and tweens; Saturday’s schedule includes a “Dress As Your Favorite Comic Character” costume contest, photos with Iron Man and a film presentation of Captain America. 4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday. Free. Registration required for classes. Safety Harbor Library, 101 Second St. N, Safety Harbor. (727) 724-1525, ext. 112.

Feeling the blues? Two weekend festivals celebrate the humble blueberry. In Plant City, Keel and Curley Winery, 5210 W Thonotosassa Road, Plant City, will host its fifth annual Tampa Bay Blueberry Festival on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors are invited to pick blueberries from the winery’s more than 20 acres of fruit-filled bushes. There will be more than 50 local vendors, with craft, food and commercial tables for all ages, as well as live music, kids’ activities, including bounce houses, and an antique tractor display. Gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. The festival closes at 6 p.m. each day. Admission is free. For more information, visit And in Brooksville, the inaugural Florida Blueberry Festival kicks off Friday. The three-day street festival will take place over 14 square blocks. It kicks off with a parade, celebrity blueberry stomp and Journey tribute band at 6:30 p.m. Friday.  Events on Saturday and Sunday include classic car, hot rod and custom bike shows; a hot dog-eating contest; a special Cinco de Mayo celebration and more. Admission is free, but parking is off site and will cost $10 to $15, with shuttle service to and from the festival grounds. For info, see

Trucks in St. Pete? Yep The USF St. Petersburg campus is hosting a Food Truck Rally Saturday to celebrate the end of the school year. (Since the campus is technically on state property the city’s zoning issues with food trucks don’t apply). Open to the public, the 13-truck rally takes place from 4-8 p.m. in Parking Lot 2, at Second Street and Sixth Avenue S. For details, see

Kids ages 11 to 18 can learn the basics of the sport at an Ultimate Frisbee Clinic on Saturday. Clinic participants receive a free disc, hands-on throwing instruction and admission to an exhibition game. After the clinic, all you need is an open field and some friends to play. It’s free, but registration is required at (813) 358-8298 or The clinic is at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex, 2450 Drew St., Clearwater.

Sunday brings a salute to the holy land Tampa’s Israel Independence Day Celebration, taking place in the outdoor pavilion, includes Israeli music and dancing, games, children’s activities, food, an Israeli market place, live performances and numerous special guests. Noon-4 p.m. Sunday. Free. Riverwalk at Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 264-9000.

More family friendly events this week include:

Book Nook by the Bay
The Pier Aquarium’s family event with varying authors, craft activities and marine education facts. Included with daily admission. $5 adults, $4 students/seniors, 6 and younger free. Pier Aquarium, 800 Second Ave. NE, Suite 2001, St. Petersburg. (727) 803-9799. 10:30 a.m.-noon Saturday.
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 with special 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.
Cartooning for Kids
Children aged 7-12 will learn storyboarding, perspective, character development and how to make flip story books. This is the first class in a five week course. $50, includes supplies. Hyde Park Art Studio, 702 S. Albany Ave., Tampa. (813) 259-1687. 4 p.m. today.
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Play’n Around Traveling Children’s Theatre put their own spin on this ageless musical comedy in which a boy named Jack trades his cow, Betsy, for magic beans. $7, $6 Center members. Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa. (813) 269-1310. 2 p.m. Sunday.
Kid Power: Operation Lunch Line
Journey deep inside the human body in 3D to learn the value of nutrition and exercise. Children sing, dance and use their “kid power” to make health-enhancing choices. $7.50, $6.50 children, $22 family four pack. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6793. 11 a.m. Saturday.
Miniature Train Rides
Kids can ride the miniature trains of Largo Central Railroad. Free (donations for train maintenance appreciated). Largo Central Railroad, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6775. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Out of This World
This week’s installment of weekly themed parties is “Out of This World,” an unofficial Star Wars day with space-themed activities , the space food world kitchen, character meet and greets and Star Wars character face painting. Activity schedules will be posted in the museum lobby. 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. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday.
Picnic in the Park
Enjoy an old-fashioned picnic with hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, chips, macaroni salad and all the fixings. Lunch is served on the back patio. $7 (advance purchase required). Largo Community Center, 400 Alt. Keene Road, Largo. (727) 518-3131. noon-2 p.m. today.
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.
Safety Harbor Comic Con
Three days of comic book fun with contests, drawing and graphic novel classes taught by Mike Lyman of Magnum Arts, a Superhero Film Festival and an Artist’s Alley art reception.  Today’s schedule includes a graphic novel workshop and a film presentation of Thor. Friday’s schedule includes a basic cartooning for teens and tweens workshop. Saturday’s schedule includes a “Dress As Your Favorite Comic Character” costume contest and a film presentation of Captain America. Free. Safety Harbor Library, 101 Second St. N, Safety Harbor. (727) 724-1525. 5 p.m. today, 4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday.
Saturdays at the Morean
Free art experiences designed for families with children ages 5-10. The Bank of America Children’s Learning Center will be open for art exploration, with open art stations and take-home projects. Instructors will be on hand to assist. Free. Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 822-7872. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Shark Theatre presents 'HONK!
The family musical comedy features music by George Stiles, with book and lyrics by Anthony Drewe. This contemporary retelling of the story about the Ugly Duckling is recommended for ages 6 and older; children 5 and younger will not be permitted. $10 adults, $8 students. Nature Coast Technical High School, 4057 California St., Brooksville. (352) 797-7088, ext. 296. 7 p.m. today-Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday.
Tampa’s Israel Independence Day Celebration
This community celebration, taking place in the outdoor pavilion, includes Israeli music and dancing, games, children’s activities, food, an Israeli market place, live performances and numerous special guests. Free. Riverwalk at David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 264-9000. Noon-4 p.m. Sunday.
Teen Swing Dance
Teens age 13 and older are invited to dress in retro swing attire for this dance jam with contests, door prizes and lessons. No partner required. $7. Gulfport Casino, 5500 Shore Blvd. S, Gulfport. (813) 840-3715. 7-11 p.m. Friday.
Water Safety Puppet Show
This water safety program for kids ages 2 to 12 includes a puppet show, songs, a safety lecture, a visit from Splash the Safety Penguin and free stuffed penguins (while supplies last). Free. Safety Harbor Library, 101 Second St. N, Safety Harbor. (727) 724-1535. 6:30 p.m. Monday, 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 9:43am]


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