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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

We've got a once-in-a-life astronomy event, as well as fun art shows and a free beach party returns to Treasure Island this week. Read on for more free and cheap things to do with your kids.

transitvenus.jpgAstronomy buffs are buzzing about the Transit of Venus, one of the rarest astronomical phenomena, coming Tuesday when Venus slips between the Earth and the sun, appearing like a distinct black dot crossing the sun as it sets. There are viewings planned around the bay area, with solar shields affixed to telescopes lest we burn our retinas (don’t try to look at the sun with the naked eye). The event comes with a historical tale: Scientists in 1761 and 1769 fanned the globe to use Venus and relatively simple math to calculate the distance from the Earth to the sun. You can see what they saw from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at free watch parties  at St. Petersburg College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg; on the deck of the Old Snack Shack, 15102 Gulf Blvd., Madeira Beach; and on the roof of the Richard A. Beard parking garage at USF’s Tampa campus, 4202 E Fowler Ave. (There’s also a viewing at MOSI’s planetarium in Tampa, but it’ll cost $20.) You better catch it this time around because it won’t do it again until December 2117. If the weather is a washout, you can watch the transit through NASA’s live remote webcast from atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Visit

The artists collective known as ArtOn Central brings ArtOn the Bay, an outdoor waterfront festival with mixed media artwork by up to 50 artists, children’s activities, food and live music by Fowlers Bluff and Cosmic Chameleon. It starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the grounds of the St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Free.

The annual Pinellas Pepper Fest  for fire eaters brings the heat Saturday and Sunday at Pinellas Park’s England Brothers Bandshell Park. There will also be live music, family fun, pepper plants for sale, pepper-related items, crafts, barbecue, a jalapeno pepper eating contest (Saturday), a food fight (1 p.m. both days) and a spicy lolly lick-a-thon (Sunday). It runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. $2 admission, 12 and younger free.

The biweekly Saturday Sunsets on the Trail, a Treasure Island summer party, returns at 1 p.m. Saturday with vendors lining about 1 mile of the beachfront trail along with street performers, water slides and various inflatables for the kids near the Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. There will be live music by Paul Anthony (1-4 p.m.) and Rendezvous (5-8:30 p.m.). It’s free; park on the beach for $5 at 112th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard.

Join a Largo ranger for Stories in the Park. Take a hike in McGough Nature Park and listen to some stories, with snacks for kids. It starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at 11901 146th St. N, Largo. $3 per family.

Kids love the surreal and Breakfast with Dali for Families is the monthly docent-led tours that introduces Salvador Dali and the Dali Museum to families with children. The interactive tour highlights Dali paintings and other works that 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.

More than 100 skiers ages 6 to 60 perform a theatrical Water Ski Show  similar to those seen at Cypress Gardens. This week features a Wild West Show that includes barefoot, jump, ballet, adagio and pyramid acts. Free. Tower Lake, 130 Burbank Road, Oldsmar. (727) 480-9365. 6 p.m. Saturday.

beachpool_2.jpgKick off summer with a Free Pool Party. A public pool party with free food and drinks, games, raffles and open slides and kiddie pools. Free. Shore Acres Recreation Center and Pool, 4142 Shore Acres Blvd. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 688-7761. 4-6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Friends of the Library Book Sale is a two-day book sale with thousands of used hardcover, soft cover and children’s books donated by library patrons. Prices will be reduced on the second day of the sale. St. Petersburg North Branch Library, 861 70th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7214. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. Also being held at Mirror Lake Library, 280 Fifth St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7268. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

Check out the Kids Fishing Derby, a session of free fishing for children ages 5 to 16. Parents must be available to sign a waiver, help children bait their lines, cast their poles and take fish off the hooks. Free. R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive W, Oldsmar. (813) 749-1273. 8 a.m. Saturday.

Families are encouraged to learn about how kites are used all over the world by making a kite and learning how they fly. $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.

More family friendly events

Midnite Madness
This night strictly for teens and tweens includes an outdoor laser tag arena, extreme inflatables, game raids, mini skate park jams and snack buffets. $15 advance, $20 day of. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 550 Laura Lane, Dunedin. (727) 738-2920. 7 p.m. Friday.
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.
Pioneer Nights
An afternoon of old-time fun ends with an evening around the campfire with s’mores. Best for ages 7 to 13. $25 (registration required). Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 2-9 p.m. Saturday.
Planetarium Shows
Families with children ages 5 and older are invited to the “star theater” that can accurately simulate the night sky at any time or location on Earth. The theme for the current show is “Stars of Summer” and runs through July 20. Telescope viewings from the rooftop observatory after the shows. Free. St. Petersburg College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 341-4320. 7 and 8:15 p.m. Friday.
Saturdays at the Morean
Free art experiences designed for families with children ages 5-10. 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.
Sunflower Maze
Follow the paths cut into a 5-acre patch of 8- to 10-foot sunflowers. You’ll also find hay rides, a rubber duck race, tree house explorations, veggie cannon firings, petting farm, story telling, pig races, crafts and a picnic area. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. $8.50, $4.50 age 3-11, 2 and younger free (cash only). Sweetfields Farm, 17250 Benes Roush Road, Masaryktown. (352) 279-0977. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Target Tuesday
Everyone gets in for $2 from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, presented by Target. Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861.
There’s A Monster Under My Bed
A week of monster-themed story times, crafts and slime making. $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. Monday-June10.
YMCA Kids Fishing Challenge
Kids fish in 45-minute periods at 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Prizes awarded. Includes tournament entry, fishing rod and reel, tackle and tackle box, bait, T-shirt, lunch, crafts, raffle ticket and activities. Non-angler entry includes lunch, T-shirt, crafts, raffle ticket and activities. Proceeds benefit the Greater Palm Harbor YMCA People Helping People Financial Assistance Program. $15, $10 non-angler. Wall Springs Park, 3725 De Soto Blvd., Palm Harbor. (727) 787-9622. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Childlike in his innocence but grotesque in form, Frankenstein comes to life onscreen through this multicast of the live play performed in London’s National Theatre. $15. Park Place Stadium 16, 7200 U.S. 19 North, Pinellas Park. (727) 525-7777. Also at Woodland Square 20 in Oldsmar and Regency 20 in Brandon. 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Music and Movies in the Park
This week features the 1986 comedy classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with music by Lance Lubin and the Clearwater Bluegrass Review before the screening. Bring a picnic and enjoy the water view. Music starts at 7 p.m., and the film starts at dark. Free. North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg. (727) 463-4612. 7 p.m. today (Thursday)
Sunset Cinema at Pier 60
Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features Oceans, rated G, and Saturday features War Horse, rated PG-13. No alcohol. Pier 60, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Shows start at dusk.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne,
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[Last modified: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 5:54pm]


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