Free and cheap things to do this week
Got relatives in town in need of amusements? With so many holiday events, we separated that list out here. But if you've had your fill of tinsel and elves, here's more free and cheap diversions that are family friendly.
Assume the joystick position! The Renown Boutique will host a Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Tournament on Sunday. The event at 1501 E Ninth Ave. in Ybor City, starts at 3 p.m. and is sponsored by Triumvir and Capcom; this one of only four boutiques nationwide selected to participate. The tournament will be played on the Xbox 360 console with the arcade-style joysticks. Call or text to sign up, details are here.
Ray Negron, a sports executive with the New York Yankees, on Saturday will sign copies of his latest children's book, "The Greatest Story Never Told: The Babe and Jackie" at DD Collectables, a shop at the downtown St. Petersburg Pier, 800 Second Ave. NE. Legend has it that Negron was caught as a teenager in the 1970s spraying graffiti on the side of Yankee Stadium, and was put to work by George Steinbrenner. Negron became the Yankees' batboy and rose through the ranks to become a consultant to Steinbrenner and Spalding's head of community relations, spearheading efforts to bring sports equipment to underprivileged kids. The book is a story inspired by real events related to Negron by Babe Ruth's granddaughter. He will be at the store from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. Phone: (727) 822-2206.
Train fans, both big and small, can get their fix at the Model Train and Railroad Artifact Show and Sale this weekend at the Florida State Fairgrounds. See 300 tables of model items in all gauges, antiques, six large working layouts, plus parts, accessories and collector items. It runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. in the Special Events Center at Florida State Fairgrounds, Interstate 4 at U.S. 301 N, Tampa. It's $8 for both days, under 12 free. Parking is $5 per car or $10 per RV or bus.
You can get some smooth savies on smoothies each Monday in December. Tropical Smoothie Cafe is offering free coffee and green tea smoothies with each donation of a new, unwrapped toy for local families in need. The toys must be valued at $5 — the same retail price as the smoothies, There's nine locations around Tampa Bay.
Be careful of shrinkage at Friday’s Polar Plunge at the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center, 6630 Van Buren St. At 5 p.m., if you dare the slide (and water temperature) you receive a keepsake icicle. The deep freeze is followed by games and prizes in the heated lap pool. At 6:15 p.m. change into some warm clothes and cuddle up to watch some holiday movies with hot chocolate and cookies. Admission is limited, so call (727) 841-4560. Price: Swimmers $5, others $4
The nature lovers at Weedon Island Preserve in northeast St. Petersburg are leading a three-mile night hike on Friday, one that is without flashlights to develop your nocturnal senses. It’s free but advance registration recommended at (727) 453-6500. The hike is from 6:30 to 9 :30 p.m.
This is from the "So Weird It's Cool" file. You can see the largest provolone ever shipped to the United States at Mazzaro’s Italian Market in St. Petersburg on Saturday. This baby is 800 pounds and 9 feet long. As a Christmas tradition Mazzaro’s cuts a large extra sharp Provolone right before Christmas. This extra sharp cheese took 8,800 gallons of milk to produce. It will be toted out of Mazzaro’s cheese department with a small crane and forklift and moved to a special area for cutting. Samples will be available and the cheese will be on sale while supplies last at 2909 22nd Ave N.
Try a different holiday on for size at the Hmong New Year, a traditional Hmong celebration features authentic Asian cuisine, dance and music, fashion show, beauty pageant and games from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at the England Brothers Bandshell, 5121 80th Ave. N, Pinellas Park. Free.
--- Sharon Kennedy Wynne
[CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
This was the scene at 2007's cutting of the 250 lb. Christmas provolone, a holiday tradition at Mazzaro's Italian Market. But that's nothing, this year's is a record-breaking 800 pound , 9 1/2 foot long, salami-shaped cheese hanging and aging in the store right now.