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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



dragonboat.jpgWe've got dragons in Garrison Channel and mummies at MOSI, not to mention the lead up to Star Wars Day by camping out with Darth Vader. Read on for not-so-scary ways to spend time -- and not much money -- with your kids.

Dragons will be lurking in Garrison Channel this weekend. Dragon boats that are the stuff of legend will be zipping through Channelside-area waters as paddlers from across the U.S. and Canada compete to be Tampa’s top team. It’s free for spectators to cheer on their favorite teams as they aim to paddle in synch in what is essentially a long canoe with a dragon head. This race is 450 meters with a fully buoyed five-lane course. Each team races three times, and heats run every 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the Asia Fest will run from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at nearby Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. Enjoy the tastes, sights and sounds of 15 Asian countries. There will be colorful dance performances, traditional music and a Miss Asia Fest competition. The park is at 601 Old Water St., and the dragon boats will be cruising down Garrison Channel starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday behind the Marriott Tampa Waterside, 700 S Florida Ave., Tampa.

Dunedin is having a Touch-a-Truck on steroids, with more than 150 vehicles on display including … wait for it … a 20-ton tank. The Dunedin Parks and Recreation Department is also bringing out semitrailer trucks, heavy-duty construction equipment, fire engines, emergency vehicles, motorcycles, helicopters and boats from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Demonstrations include dive team search techniques and fire/rescue extrications. Free, with $2 parking, at Highlander Park, 1920 Pinehurst Road, Dunedin. (727) 812-4530.

For young star-hoppers, Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry is staging a Jedi Academy Camp-In on Saturday night. Build a lightsaber! $105 parent/child team, $60 additional child. For details: (813) 987-6000 or This is leading up to what is called Star Wars Day next Friday, May 4th (as in, "May the 4th be with you")

Blast Friday, the family-friendly street celebration in downtown Clearwater this month includes a free concert by ’70s radio kings Firefall (You Are The Woman, Just Remember I Love You, Strange Way). There will also be unique vendors, fun foods, family activities and contests. Free. It runs 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday in the Cleveland Street District, Clearwater. (888) 532-5278.

A $5 wrist band lets you try all the entries in the Cook Your Butt Off Barbecue Challenge of time-honored family pork butt recipes entered for this contest. There will also be tractor hayrides through the forest ($1 additional charge) and kids games. Free parking and admission from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Pinellas Pioneer Settlement, 2900 31st St. S, St. Petersburg. ($25 contest entry fee.) (727) 893-7326.

Treasure Island’s beach will stage 10 hours of dancing in the sand to live music for the Bikini Blues Bash. With music by Paul Anthony (noon), Charlie Morris Band (1:15 p.m.), Betty Fox (3 p.m.), Little Jake Mitchell and the Soul Searchers (5:30 p.m.), Sarasota Slim (7 p.m.) and Lucky Peterson (8-10 p.m.). Other activities include a children’s area, arts and craft vendors, food and beverage concessions, from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. (727) 547-4575. Free.

Come Saturday, Freedom Lake Park's Bark in the Park will look like a doggie singles cruise — we hope someone has ordered a few thousand plastic baggies to contain all the ... umm, excitement. A whole pack of dogs will be on hand from Pekingese to police dogs. Activities include pet adoptions, craft and pet vendors and a K-9 police dog demonstration. Starts at 8 a.m. at 7770 52nd St., Pinellas Park. (727) 488-6321. Free, with contest entry fees benefitting the care for active duty and retired K-9 police dogs.

Or if your pooch is a sports fan, you can try to bark in the ballpark on Saturday. The Dunedin Blue Jays will be hosting an annual tradition at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium - Bark in the Park Fans are invited to bring along their canine companions, and learn about the area's finest dog treats and dog care all while enjoying the wonderful game of baseball! Tickets to the game are $6 for humans and $3 for dogs and the
proceeds of dog tickets will benefit Retired K9 Heroes. There are three different ways you can purchase tickets for the April 28 game vs. the
Tampa Yankees. You can go to the stadium box office located at 373 Douglas Ave. in Dunedin, you can call (727) 733-0429, or you can order
online at

It's the first Tuesday of the month so it's Target Tuesday Everyone gets in free from 2 to 7 p.m. Presented by Target. Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861. 2-7 p.m. Tuesday.

mummyheads.jpgWhile this isn't free or cheap theMummies of the World exhibit coming to MOSI this weekend through Labor Day is not to be missed. This traveling exhibit is a rarity because it involves 21 different museums from around the world, making it the largest exhibition of real human and animal mummies and related artifacts ever assembled. Tickets are $18.95 for adults; $12.95 for children ages 2 to 12; $16.95 for seniors. For $5 more you can see both the mummies and the rest of MOSI, (813) 987-6000.

Coming on the heels of Earth Day is the annual Green Thumb Festival, the plant and landscape festival that celebrates Arbor Day and Earth Day with a colorful array of flowering plants, trees, orchids, herbs, garden art for sale, soil and water testing, tool sharpening, horticulture exhibits, children’s plant fair, Garden Club of St. Petersburg Flower Show (9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.), recycling and much more. Free (trees additional). Walter Fuller Park & Center, 7891 26th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7441. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Other family friendly events this week include:

Pit Bull Awareness Day
Well-behaved bull breeds are the stars of this dog-friendly gathering with confirmation shows, junior handlers, a hang time competition, weight pull, dog product vendors, food and adoptable dogs.  Limit one dog per person.  Gates open at 9 a.m. $5 per person or dog, 12 and younger free. Florida State Fairgrounds, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (727) 735-1079. 11 a.m. Saturday.
Buddy Memorial Horse Show
Children and adults with special needs will put on a show to demonstrate the horsemanship skills they’ve learned through the Saddle Up Riding Club. Tour the facility and check out the animals. Free (donations appreciated). Saddle Up Riding Club, 6080 94th Ave., Pinellas Park. (727) 348-7104. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Largo LIVE! Wine and Food Truck Tasting
Food trucks hit the streets at Ulmer Park, along with specialties from area restaurants, plus 100 wines for sampling (at $3-$7 each), live entertainment, craft and merchandise vendors. Proceeds benefit the Abilities Foundation job and housing programs for disabled veterans. Ulmer Park, 301 W Bay Drive, Largo. 5-10 p.m. Saturday.
Astronomy Night
Join the St. Pete Astronomy Club for a night of star gazing. $3, $1.50 children. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 7:30-9 p.m. Friday.
Cartooning for Kids
Children aged 7-12 will learn story boarding, perspective, character development and how to make flip story books. $50, includes supplies. Hyde Park Art Studio, 702 S. Albany Ave., Tampa. (813) 259-1687. 4 p.m. Tuesday.
 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.
Swing Into Spring
With 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.
Wee-time at Weedon
This portion features Doreen Cronin’s book Diary of a Spider. Includes story related crafts, games and other hands-on 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.
Sunset Cinema at Pier 60
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features The Smurfs, rated PG, and Saturday features Jack & Jill, rated PG. No alcohol. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Shows start at dusk.
Canoe Lake Maggiore
Study the shoreline as you follow guides on a paddle from Lake Maggiore Park (MLK and 37th-40th Ave. S) to Dell Holmes Park and back. Ages 8 and older only. Pre-registration and pre-payment required. $10, $20 per canoe (limit 3 per canoe). Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday.
 Moonlight Night Hike
Bring a flashlight for a one-mile prowl in search of night creatures. $3 per carload (up to eight people). Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, Bushnell. (352) 793-4781. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Friday.
Ultimate Frisbee Clinic
Kids ages 11 to 18 can learn about the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. Clinic participants receive a free disc, hands on instruction on throwing a disc and watch an exhibition game. Free (registration required). Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, 1111 N Boulevard, Tampa. (813) 358-8298. 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Water Ski Show
More than 100 skiers ages 6-60 perform theatrical water shows similar to those seen over the years in Cypress Gardens. This week features an '80s themed show. Free. Tower Lake, 130 Burbank Road, Oldsmar. (727) 480-9365. 6 p.m. Saturday.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:31am]


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