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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



Can we all exhale now? Back to work, back to reality and ... a pile of bills. How about you unwind from the post-holiday ramp up with these free and cheap things to do with your kids:

central.jpgI love the Downtown ArtWalk for a date night, but it's also a nice night out with older kids since you can see a lot of art and meet the artists themselves. One don't-miss stop this Saturday is  The Central Avenue Project. Ten photographers from the Florida Photographic Collaborative have turned their lenses on the many facets of Central Avenue, St. Petersburg’s original main street. The images, like the one at left, show the vibrant new life there, as well as the sad and even political facets of an urban thoroughfare. The opening reception for it is Saturday (during the downtown ArtWalk) at 6 p.m. and it will continue through Jan. 31 at the [email protected] Annex, 645 Central Ave. Free.

Dude! It’s free day to shred at the Largo Skate Park on Saturday when it's Extreme Sports Day. Extreme bikers take to the ramps and pipes from noon to 3 p.m., then it’s skaters only from 3 to 6 p.m. at Largo Skate Park, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo.

While the big flashy Ringling Bros. circus is at the St. Pete Times Forum this weekend, a throw-back kind of circus will be in place under the big top Saturday, called The Showmen’s Charity Circus in Gibsonton, home of many a retired carny worker.  Held at the International Independent Showmen’s Association grounds, 6925 Riverview Drive, you an expect clowns, performing dogs, horses, elephants, jugglers, aerialists, contortionists and a live 16-piece circus band. And since these are veteran carnival folks, there is naturally a midway with fun bounces, animal rides, a petting zoo and what’s billed as the world’s largest model circus display. This annual show has been going on for almost 30 years. There will be three shows, each seating 1,200 people, at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. The midway opens an hour before each show. Tickets are $12 at the door. Advance tickets cost $10 and can be bought at M&M Printing Co. and the Osprey Observer in Ruskin, Paradise Pet Salon Boutique in Riverview and at the Showmen’s Club in Gibsonton. Proceeds go to charity. For information, call (813) 677-3590.

In Tampa Bay we go straight from the holiday season to Gasparilla season. The big invasion/festival/parade isn’t until Jan. 29 (ahoy, grand marshal Jim Belushi!), but the events start well before that. Kids can get ready for Gasparilla at this A Little History program with sea chanteys, digging through a pirate’s treasure chest, creating crafty treasures and playing games starting at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa. Bonus: Brenda Darnley Martin reads from her underwater adventure book set in the waters of Tampa Bay, Freddie, Hector and Tish: The Treasure Hunt Fish. One adult must accompany every two children; $10 per child, $6 per adult (includes gallery admission). Preregistration required. (813) 228-0097. For upcoming Gasparilla events, go to

Have a dancer? Get a Free Youth Ballet Master Class at the Patel Conservatory.  Intermediate and advanced ballet dancers can attend  but advanced registration is required.  Classes will be today 5-6:30 p.m. (advanced ballet dancers grades 8-12) and Monday 6-7:30 p.m. (intermediate ballet dancers grades 6-12). Patel Conservatory, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 222-1263.

With the weather so nice we have lots of outdoor movies.   You can even get a $2 meal in Palm Harbor before watching The Land Before Time, produced by Steven Spielberg. Films begin at dusk. In case of bad weather, movies move to the Sunderman Hockey Rink. Free. Saturday 7 p.m. Pop Stansell Park, 797 Florida Ave., Palm Harbor. (727) 771-6000. Or  head to Clearwater Beach by Pier 60 where on Friday they are showing Karate Kid, rated PG-13, and on Saturday it's Batman, rated PG-13 at dusk. Free at Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060.

Children in grades 1 through 8 can dip, dive, duck and dodge at Friday Night Dodgeball. $3 per child to play; additional $2 for pizza and drinks. Friday 6:30-8:30 p.m. Southwest Recreation Complex and Pool, 13120 Vonn Road, Largo. (727) 518-3125.

If theater is more your style, Rapunzel, the classic story of the long-haired beauty shows how a possessive mother, a tentative prince, and a naive young girl all grow up in a surprising way. $6.50, $5.50 child, $26 family four pack. Saturday 11 a.m. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6793.

Saturday you can attend A Birthday Party for a Couple of Cougars. No jokes. This is for actual cougars, not the kind who are dating the pool boy. The Survival Outreach Sanctuary in Spring Hill is celebrating the 20th birthdays of cougars Little Girl and Big Sister at the sanctuary. Starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, hot dogs, chips and drinks will be for sale. In lieu of gifts for the big cats, there is a donation for admission suggestion of $5 for adults, $2 for children, 22005 Bowman Road in Spring Hill.

In the category of freaky but funny, we have ventriloquist Todd Oliver and his real live talking dogs. Though when you watch YouTube videos of him and Irving the Boston terrier, it is a bit creepy. There appears to be some kind of false bottom jaw he uses to make the dog’s mouth move. See if you can figure it all out at his show at 8 p.m. Friday at Largo Cultural Center. You’ll also meet Lucy the West Highland mix and Elvis the basset hound, along with Oliver’s puppet friends Pops, Miss Lilly and Joey. Oliver has been doing his show 13 years aboard Showboat Branson Belle in Branson, Mo., and he and Irving also have appeared on late-night TV and the Today Show. Tickets are $30, $35 VIP and day of show. (727) 587-6793.

Tampa Theatre has dusted off its classic Hitchcock oldies for the month of January, and this week is Vertigo (1958). James Stewart plays a San Francisco detective with a fear of heights who is drawn into a dizzying plot in which a girl he loves apparently falls to her death. Then he meets her double (Kim Novak). The movie starts at 3 p.m. Sunday at 711 Franklin St., Tampa. Tickets are $9, $7 members. (813) 274-8982.

Learn about the habitat, eating habits and other mysteries of the American alligator on the Alligator Walk for $3, $1.50 children. Sunday 11:30 a.m. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326.
Moccasin Lake Nature Park Birdwatching Walk

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011 12:35pm]


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