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Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap things to do with kids this week



Kids can can take advantage of free tennis play or check out a great folk art and music fest this weekend or see a free movie on the beach. We have all that and more in this week's list of free and cheap things to do with kids.

The swanky revamped USF Sun Dome in Tampa is the hot venue of the moment. Sir Elton John. Florence + the Machine. Elmo. Oh yeah, baby. Because rock may rule, but nobody throws a kickin’ party like the hipsters from Sesame Street. Elmo, Big Bird and other lovable characters are in town Friday through Sunday in the live show “Elmo Makes Music.”  Tickets are $12-$57 with showtimes at 7 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. (813) 974-3002.

dragonboat.jpgLong an annual event in Tampa, now it’s St. Petersburg’s turn to catch dragon boat fever. Paddles Up St. Pete has signed up 18 teams to compete in St. Petersburg’s first dragon boat race in a 350-meter course in Bayboro Harbor on Saturday. It’s an unusual sight: a 41-foot boat with a dragon head on the front and 20 paddlers keeping pace with the aid of a drummer. There will be an educational village set up in Poynter Park at 1000 Third St. S where you can test drive kayaks, canoes and paddleboards. There will also be food vendors, a beer garden and an awards ceremony with live music. The first qualifying races begin at 8:30 a.m., the educational village and vendors set up 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by awards ceremonies. Free to watch. 

To celebrate Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play (where the channel will go dark on Saturday to encourage kids to go outside and play), tennis centers around Tampa Bay are offering free court time for kids. Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis, 10315 Paradise Blvd., will have tennis for kids from 9 to 11 a.m. There will be a festival of sorts at MacFarlane Park Tennis Courts, the city courts at 700 N MacDill Ave. in Tampa, with music and prizes and of course tennis from 3 to 6 p.m., and there also will be free tennis at the YMCA at 4550 Village Center Drive in Palm Harbor from noon to 2 p.m. All events are on Saturday. To find a tennis event near you, plug your zip code into the Youth Tennis website at'

The annual contemporary folk art and music street festival Folkfest St. Pete moves to Albert Whitted Park this year because the fundraiser for the Creative Clay Cultural Arts Center has grown in popularity and quality each year. A dynamite music lineup includes singer Geri X, A Fragile Tomorrow and Antigone Rising on Saturday, and Rebekah Pulley, Passerine and Bonnaroo alums Applebutter Express on Sunday. There’s also a kids area, a craft beer tent and food vendors with everything from wild boar sausage to vegan soft serve ice cream. It’s $5, $50 VIP, at 107 Eighth Ave. SE, St. Petersburg.

The Guy Harvey Film Fest this week is the first of three consecutive Friday nights featuring a documentary that focuses on preserving marine resources, one of the lauded artist’s prime passions. This week’s feature is Mystery of the Grouper Moon. It’s $5, $3 for children 12 and under, at 7 p.m. Friday at the Florida Gulf Coast Center for Fishing, 12211 Walsingham Road, Largo.

In honor of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi today , many churches honor the patron saint of animals by inviting parishioners to bring all manner of pets for a blessing of the animals. A sampling of events:

  • Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church: All family pets and animals are invited for a blessing, and there will be  animal rescue groups, pet industry vendors, K9 unit demonstrations, food, bake sale and raffles. Free, 8505 113th St., Seminole. (813) 971-4732. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
  • Good Samaritan Church of Pinellas Park: Even the Pinellas Park Mounted Police are bringing their horses to this blessing at the church. There will also be a visit by Pet Pal Rescue volunteers. Donations of towels, sheets, cat or dog food or play toys appreciated at the church, 6085 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park. (727) 544-8558. 4-6 p.m. Sunday.
  • St. Mary Our Lady of Grace: All animals can get an individual blessing from a friar and have their picture taken with the friar, 515 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 420-8763. 10 a.m.-noon Saturday.
  • St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church: Whatever type of animal you own, join Pet Pal Rescue for an animal blessing, 3747 34th St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 239-5148. 10 a.m. Saturday.
  • St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church: The Rev. Susan J. Latimer will bless all animals at an outdoor altar at the church, 502 Druid Hills Road, Temple Terrace. Photos of animals not suitable to bring and children’s stuffed animals will also be blessed. Each pet receives a St. Francis medal. All animals should be leashed or caged. A picnic follows. (813) 988-6483. Noon Saturday.
  • Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd: Bring your favorite animal, stuffed or live, for a blessing service at the church, 639 Edgewater Drive, Dunedin. All live animals must be leashed or crated. Donations of dog care supplies appreciated to benefit the Dunedin Doggie Rescue. 10 a.m. Sunday.

Other family friendly events this week:

Box Car Rally
Teams can build their own gravity-powered box car and join the downhill rally.  The day also includes music, children’s activities, balloons, a dunk tank, food and raffles. $50 per team; spectators free. Harborview Center, 300 Cleveland St., Clearwater. (727) 431-7362. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Too Good for Drugs Walk and Kidfest
A day for students to take a stand against drugs in the community includes free admission to MOSI (10 a.m.-noon only), a one-mile walk and a festival with entertainment by Radio Disney, balloon art, face painting, mascot appearances and games. MOSI, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon. 
 Breakfast with Dali for Families
 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.
 Gulfport’s Birthday Bash
Gulfport turns 102 and celebrates with this party including a mullet toss, children’s games, bounce house, sidewalk art contest, music, free birthday cake and a fish fry. Free (food/drink additional). Gulfport Historical Society Museum, 5301 28th Ave. S, Gulfport. (727) 893-1118. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Hillsborough River Raid
At the edge of the Hillsborough River, this American Civil War living history event marks the 149th anniversary of the original Hillsborough River Raid. Includes functioning replica weapons and period dress , daily battles (1:30 p.m.), encampment tours, food vendors. Free. Veterans Memorial Park, 3602 N U.S. 301, Tampa. (813)744-5502. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Homecoming Dress Distribution
Nearly 4,000 quality formal dresses, shoes and purses on display for needy girls to pick out for homecoming. $1-$5 donation appreciated. Seminole Mall, 11201 Park Blvd., Seminole. (727) 386-4502. 10 a.m.-2 p.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.
My Doll and Me
Girls ages 7 to 12 can bring a doll and join a journey following the tales of the American Girl series. Children will learn about female Olympians from Tampa and Ybor’s immigrant world through crafts, games, snacks and gallery experiences. American Girl dolls and parental participation not required. $15. Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa. (813) 228-0097. 10 a.m. Saturday.
 Park Ranger Nature Educational Programs
This weeks topic is Florida fossils. $5 per child, adults with children free, adult only $5 (cash only). Lettuce Lake Park, 6920 E Fletcher Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6204. 10 a.m. and noon Saturday-Sunday.
Join astronomy experts to see universe up close, weather permitting. Free. Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000. 7 p.m. Saturday.
St. Pete Shuffle
This family-friendly night of shuffleboard with all equipment provided welcomes back live music with performances by Black Eyed Angels, Ghost Hospital and Happiness Machine. Free. Mirror Lake St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, 559 Mirror Lake Drive N, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-2083. 7-11 p.m. Friday.
Star Wars Reads Day
With Star Wars movie marathon, craft and food station, prizes, games and a Star Wars figurine display for teens, tweens. Come dressed in costume. Free. Palm Harbor Library, 2330 Nebraska Ave., Palm Harbor. (727) 784-3332. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Sunset Beach Concert Series
Bring a blanket or chair and catch a rock and blues performance by Straight Up Blues band. Refreshments available for purchase. No pets or alcohol allowed. Free. Sunset Beach, 214 Shore Drive, Tarpon Springs. (727) 942-5628. 7-9 p.m. today.
Yes! Fair
The fifth annual Families Abilities Information Rally features more than 80 vendors with information on coping with disabilities. There will also be games, giveaways and a touch-a-truck. Free. All People’s Life Center, 6105 E Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 420- 7708. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

Pumpkin Palooza
The ninth annual family fall festival and pumpkin patch includes kids games, crafts, inflatables, face painting, hair painting, food, arts and crafts vendors and live entertainment, drawings and a safety zone. Proceeds benefit area charities. Free; Pumpkins, food and game tickets additional. St. Petersburg Woman’s Club, 40 Snell Isle Blvd. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-4982. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
Capitol Classics Film Series
Kicking off a month of haunting treats, The Lost Boys the '80s teenage vampire hit. $5. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. 8 p.m. Friday.
Music and Movies in the Park
The series features musical talents from Florida who entertain before a classic movie screening. This week, Rebekah Pulley warms up the crowd for a viewing of the 1995 comedy American President, starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. Bring a picnic and enjoy the water view. The music starts at 6 p.m., and the films start at dark. Free (donations appreciated). North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg. (727) 463-4612. 6 p.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 PG-rated family adventure Jumanji, starring Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst and Bonnie Hunt. Saturday features the PG-13 rated comedy Little Shop of Horrors, starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Vincent Gardenia. No alcohol. Free. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Shows start at dusk which is approximately 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 4:04pm]


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