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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



cupcake.jpgThe Cupcake Spot has become one of the top quick dessert destinations on either side of Tampa Bay. On Saturday, help them celebrate their three-year anniversary from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free cupcake samples (while they last), giveaways, games, discounts on merchandise and more. Plus, buy a $25 gift certificate (great for stuffing stockings), and get a $5 one free (great for stuffing yourself). The events are at both locations: 3225 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, (813) 839-7077; and 405 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, (727) 825-0572.

An Afternoon at the North Pole is Treasure Island’s family holiday event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. It includes visits with Santa (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), live holiday shows (11:30 a.m., noon and 12:30 p.m.), food, cookie decorating, drinks and interactive entertainers. Free. Treasure Island Community Center, Gulf Boulevard and 106th Avenue, Treasure Island. (727) 547-4575, ext. 237.

If your kid is a music fan, show 'em how we did old school style at a great record store. Bananas Music, a treasure chest of more than 3 million items, decided to go mainstream — and has moved part of its operation to 2887 22nd Ave. N. Bananas was recently tapped by Rolling Stone as one of the top 25 record stores in the country. The new store has tons of space for both CDs and vinyl records. In addition to having vinyl records beneath the CD bins throughout the store, they will also line shelves along the storefront.  There’s also a bargain basement of sorts that includes 12-inch singles, thousands and thousands of vinyl and budget records — most marked for a dollar or less. The new space allows more room to display the store’s memorabilia collection as well.

A day filled with cookies, cider and Santa starts with the Pier Aquarium’s Big Tube Fish Restocking Ceremony. High atop a scaffolding, aquarium staff and Curator of Exhibits Butch Ringelspaugh will plop fish into the Pier’s 20-foot-tall fish tank.  it's free. 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday at The Pier, 800 Second Ave. NE, St. Pete. (727) 821-6443.

We many not have snow but we do have ice skating, as well as "Glice" skating, here in Florida. Tampa’s Downtown on Ice is an outdoor rink with real ice in the park. Each 90-minute session includes skate rental. The rink remains open through Jan. 2. $10. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 274-8615. In downtown St. Pete, they have Glice Skating. The 1,400-square-foot rink is made of a plastic material coated with silicone that city officials call "Glice." Add Christmas lights and carols and the scene kind of looks like an old town square, maybe up North. It's $5 for 30 minutes. It's open 6-9 nightly until Dec. 23.

winter.jpgWinter's wonderland is back. After several months of closed doors for the filming of Dolphin Tale, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is open again to visitors, who will see Winter the dolphin’s new 80,000-gallon pool and a houseboat, both  built for the movie. (For more on this dolphin's remarkable life story, go here)  You also could  glimpse of the  baby dolphin  brought in last weekend. The aquarium opens at 9 a.m., (10 a.m. Sunday) at 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater. Call (727) 441-1790 or visit

Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry is ending the year of all things Harry with several activities and attractions devoted to the young wizard and his pals at Hogwarts. Watch the new Potter movie in the IMAX Dome Theatre or snatch a snitch in a game of Quidditch. Here’s a roundup of things to do for believers, as well as Muggles.:
Quidditch Cup: Grab a broomstick and try out Harry’s favorite sport during MOSI’s first Quidditch Cup on Saturday.  Author J.K. Rowling dreamed up the sport of Quidditch, which involves broomsticks, bludgers and a small golden ball with wings known as a snitch. Players won’t be doing much flying at MOSI — we think — but they will follow the Muggle Quidditch rules set by schools and universities that play the sport. Sign up either as a team of six or an individual. Cost is $50 per team or $12 per person. The tournament starts at 10 a.m. and is open to all ages.
Showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Harry, Ron, and Hermione really become larger than life on the IMAX screen. The movie has daily showings, including two on Christmas Day for anyone eager to get away from Gramps. About an hour before each show, MOSI wizards outside the theater demonstrate how to make potions and magical illusions based on science and chemistry. Kids can get a Harry scar for $2 and write in invisible ink. The concessions stand sells a fizzy, foamy butterbeer for $4.50. Adult versions spiked with vodka go for $6. Admission is $11.95 for adults, $10.95 for students, $9.95 for seniors and $8.95 for children ages 2 to 12.
Winter break camps: MOSI offers two Harry Potter camps for elementary and middle school kids Dec. 20-23. Holiday Hogwarts’ Camp teaches kindergartners through third-graders how to cast illusions and make butterbeer and magic wands. On the last day of camp, they play in a Quidditch tournament and put on a show for their parents. Older students — fourth- through eighth-graders — create special effects with chemistry, apply movie makeup and generate computer monsters in Moviemaking Secrets of Harry Potter. Both camps run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours available for an additional $15 a week. The cost is $185.
Harry Potter museum exhibits: The Potter party extends to the planetarium and stage shows included in MOSI’s general admission. The “First Year Astronomy’’ planetarium show talks about stars, constellations and mythical tales. “Magical Mysteries’’ on the Stair Stage reveals secrets behind levitation and transfiguration and tests the audience’s skill at solving puzzles using numbers. “Science of the Wizardry World’’ in the Science Works Theater explores the science of wizards, witches, and fortune tellers. And for the wizard fan on your shopping list, the gift shop sells Gryffindor robes, Hogwarts’ scarfs, stuffed owls and Harry’s eyeglasses.

If you think it’s hard to get in the Christmas spirit in Florida in 2010, imagine what it was like back in the 1800s. Those crazy Crackers at the Florida State Fairgrounds show us how to celebrate old-school style. Back then, kids didn’t have iPods, Kinects or DJ Hero. On Saturday at Cracker Country at the fairgrounds, take a walk back in time with some of the long-gone toys of yesteryear. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa. Admission to the rural Florida village is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and children ages 6 to 12. Parking is free via the Orient Road entrance.; (813) 627-4225 Page 30.

Wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts, check out all these Nutcracker shows coming up:

  • Chocolate Nutcracker Special guest Belinda Womack appears as Aunt Pearl in this annual production, now in its third year, featuring more than 200 children from the Tampa Bay area. This urban take on the Tchaikovsky classic starts in Harlem and swings around the world with jazz and funk. Shows are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Pete. $17-$37. (727) 892-5798.
  • The Great Imperial Ballet The Nutcracker Lavish costumes and sets, featuring New York City Ballet principal dancers Abi Stafford and Jonathan Stafford, with a cast from Next Generation Ballet and more than 100 students from the Patel Conservatory. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets start at $22.50. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827.
  • The Nutcracker Performed by Bay City Ballet A traditional take on the family holiday favorite. 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $22, $25 VIP advance, $25 day of show. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6793.
  • The Nutcracker presented by Moscow Classical Ballet Live music from The Florida Orchestra and participation by local children add a special touch to this production. 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $39.50-$57. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. Clearwater Marine Aquarium's Diane Young, left, and Abby Stone, right, introduce Melissa Stockwell from Chicago, to Winter the dolphin that's missing it's tail. The aquarium hosted four people with missing limbs Friday who were learning about Winter the dolphin's prosthetic tail.

PHOTO: Clearwater Marine Aquarium's Diane Young, left, and Abby Stone, right, introduce Melissa Stockwell from Chicago, to Winter the dolphin that's missing it's tail. The aquarium hosted four people with missing limbs Friday who were learning about Winter the dolphin's prosthetic tail.
[Jim Damaske | Times]


--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:46am]


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