Free and cheap things to do with the kids this week
Summer is officially over after this Labor Day weekend coming up, so put away your white shoes. Or kick them off entirely and enjoy yourself now that things are finally quieting down in Tampa Bay. We've got Labor Day fun, slick cars at the Pier, fun festivals and a gecko-meets-Hollywood parade in this week's list of free and cheep things to do with your kids.
Gulfport’s annual Gecko Fest returns Saturday at 10 a.m. just as all the RNC frenzy is leaving town. This whimsical family street festival and the “Mardi Gras Meets the Renaissance” walking parade — da Vinci meets Bourbon Street? — celebrates Labor Day weekend and the end of summer. The bigger evening events include a walking parade of colorful, noisy costumed revelers. Staging begins at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Gulfport Casino, and the parade starts at 6. Registration is not required. Just join in at the casino or anywhere along the Beach Boulevard parade route. At 6:30 is the infamous costume contest; base your getup this year on the “Hooray for Geckowood!” theme. And at 8 p.m., there’s a street dance featuring the Urban Gypsies. For more info, see geckofest.com.
MOSI Food Truck Rally on Friday is all about the science of scarfing. Here’s one tip we learned during a recent visit to MOSI’s Mummies of the World exhibit in Tampa: There are no bathrooms in the exhibit, and there’s no re-admission if you suddenly need to find one. So just keep that in mind during Friday’s food truck rally at the museum. Trucks will gather beginning at 7 p.m. for a night of culinary delights with games, music and a crazy-creepy chance to explore Mummies After Dark. Food trucks confirmed include Renny’s Oki Doki Okinawon, the Dude and His Food, Keep’n it Reel, American Wiener, Burger Culture, Mobile Munchiez, 3 Suns Organic Bistro, Wicked Wiches, DoChos, Graffeatis and Not Your Ordinary Food Truck. Mummies admission: $18.95, $16.95 seniors.
Giant sand castle replicas of President Abraham Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House have been erected behind the Bilmar Beach Resort in tribute to the Republican National Convention. The project, using 30 tons of imported sand, will remain on display until Sept. 17. 7 to 11 a.m. through Sept. 17. Free. Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island.
Bring chairs, coolers and even the dog on Sunday and wade in the water for the Labor Day Sandbar Concert. Listen to live music from a barge anchored off Weedon Island, and this year’s floating Labor Day party features blues and Southern rock by the Cross Creek Blues Band and Hal Hammer Jr. starting at 1 p.m. off the boat launch at the Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Free.
This is the 19th year for this huge show of sleek Corvettes at the Pier. They've got a bevy of them — 117 in all — ranging from 1950s classics to brand new models and race cars. They will be lined up on the side of the downtown St. Petersburg Pier with their hoods popped for gear heads to gander and drool. The free show is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday with live entertainment vendors set up selling car-orientated products.
Bring blankets and chairs for two nights of family fun with carnival rides and games on Friday and Saturday to Celebrate Oldsmar. The will be live music by the Black Honkeys, food, inflatables, a touch-a-truck area for kids and a fireworks finale on Saturday. It starts at 6 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday at R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive W, Oldsmar. Free.
Hosting the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay has the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel feeling patriotic. Starting today through Labor Day, the mall's All American Festival will have concerts, special window displays, children’s activities and a sidewalk sale. Southern rockers JT Curtis and the Silver Eagle Band will perform free concerts from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in Center Court today through Saturday. There will be a variety of kids activities and strolling entertainment, face painters and balloon artists. Free at 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel.
Ruah means “spirit” or “wind” in Hebrew. Festival Ruah celebrates the spirit as it is understood across cultures, traditions and faiths with performances by Gumbi Ortiz, Barry Skeete and Fred Johnson, songs, Rumi’s poetry and hymns (kirtan) by members of the Tampa Bay Sikh Community in memory of the victims of the shooting at the Wisconsin gurdwara. 7 p.m. Friday. Free (donations appreciated). Octagon Arts Center, 2470 Nursery Road, Clearwater. (727) 531-7704.
Disney On Ice: Rockin’ Ever After remixes the stories of some of Disney’s most adventurous heroines with upbeat music and energetic choreography. In the show, Mickey and Minnie encounter an all-star lineup that includes Sebastian and the Daughters of Triton from The Little Mermaid, the rowdy pub thugs from Tangled, the spunky enchanted servants from Beauty and the Beast and the fiery Scottish redhead Merida of Brave. 7:30 p.m. Friday, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. $15-$38. Lakeland Center Jenkins Arena, 701 W Lime St., Lakeland. (863) 834-8111.
St. Petersburg’s Williams Park market has closed for the summer, and the Saturday Morning Market won’t return until October. What’s a market fan to do? Easy: Head to the Ybor City Saturday Market, featuring produce, baked goods, prepared foods, and arts and crafts, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Centennial Park, 1800 E Eighth Ave. Call (813) 241-2442.
Other family events this week:
The program for kids and teens includes a movie, followed by a “How to Draw Manga” presentation where participants will draw and paint their own anime-inspired characters. All materials will be supplied, and snacks and drinks will be served. Free. Spring Hill Branch/Harold G. Zopp Memorial Library, 9220 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. (352) 754-4043. 1-4 p.m. 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 that appeal to children. A Spanish-themed breakfast buffet and hands-on activities follow the tour. Reservations required. $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.
Canopy Tree Climbing
Climbers ages 6 and older can ascend into the heights of a live oak using harnesses and a rope pulley system similar to those used in the Amazon rain forests. $15. Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 328-0300. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Family Campfire Night
An evening around the campfire with stories, a short hike and s’mores. Children must be accompanied by an adult. $5. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 7-8:30 p.m. Friday.
Family Fishing Class
Adults and youth ages 8 and older learn fish identification, angler etiquette, knot-tying, casting, fishing rules and regulations, lures and baits and more. At the conclusion of the four class series, all participants meet for a four-hour deep sea fishing excursion off Clearwater Beach. Includes bait, poles, rigging and the chartered fishing trip. Class runs through Sept. 25 with the fishing trip taking place Sept. 29. $70, $56 residents. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 587-6740, ext. 5008. 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Hispanic Heritage Month at Glazer
Children can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by investigating the music, food and people of the Hispanic culture. 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. Monday-Wednesday.
Children ages 3 to 4 can do a nature story, crafts and outdoor exploration. This week’s theme is “Wiggling Worms.” $3. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 11 a.m.-noon Wednesday.
The library brings out boxes of Legos for kids to use their imaginations and explore creativity while developing social skills through interaction with other kids. Free. St. Petersburg North Branch Library, 861 70th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7214. 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta
A smorgasbord of food on wheels in downtown Tampa, courtesy of gourmet food trucks. Lykes Gaslight Square Park, 410 Franklin St., Tampa. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday.
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.
Organic Gardening for Children
Children ages 8 to 13 can learn the basics of organic gardening, cooking and healthy living. $8, $30 six classes. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 1-2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Park Ranger Nature Educational Programs
Rangers guide children ages 9 to 15 through a variety of fun and informative activities. This week features “Survival Skills and Camping In Florida.” $5 per child, adults with children free, adult only $5 (cash payment only). Lettuce Lake Park, 6920 E Fletcher Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6204. 10 a.m. Saturday-Monday.
Bring the family, a blanket and a picnic basket to celebrate Labor Day at the final public swimming session of the season. Free chair massages available. $12-$23. Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. (727) 518-3018. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday.
Toddler Story Time
A 20-minute story time with themed songs and movement activities for children ages 18-36 months. Free. Seminole Community Library, 9200 113th St. N, Seminole. (727) 394-6905. 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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