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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap things to do with your kids



swampmonster.jpgWe've got a cheap parent's night out, swamp monsters on the prowl, left, and a $2 admission deal at at a children's museum. Read on for more budget-friendly things to do with your kids this week:

Mom and Dad can go out on a date while kids in grades K-5 are entertained with supervised Parent’s Night Out: Kid’s Night Outside with night hikes, crafts and a campfire with s’mores. $15. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 6-10 p.m. Friday.

Beware! Swamp monsters roam the grounds of Hernando Beach’s Weeki Wachee Swamp Festival at Linda Pedersen Park on Saturday and Sunday. There will be entertainment, craft booths, a swamp monster costume contest for cash prizes (Saturday 10 a.m.), a Lil’ Critter Corner for kids and swamp-themed food such as fried alligator, swamp cabbage soup or boiled peanuts. New this year is a kickoff party Friday with a carnival night from 4 to 9 p.m. It’s all held at the park at Jenkins Creek, 6300 Shoal Line Blvd. (CR 597) in Hernando Beach. Price: $3, 12 and younger free. See

The first Tuesday of the month brings a price break for families: $2 Target Tuesday at the Glazer Children’s Museum this Tuesday, just $2 for everyone from 2 to 7 p.m. (it’s normally $15 for adults). The museum is in Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza.

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! To celebrate the March 2 birthday of everyone’s favorite children’s author, “we can have lots of good fun that is funny,” to quote the Cat in the Hat. There will be stories, snacks, a visit from the Cat in the Hat and crafts as well as face painters, balloon artists and goodie bags at Westfield malls at Citrus Park and the Brandon Town Center. Both parties are today (Thursday) starting at 4 p.m. in Citrus Park and 5 p.m. in  Brandon. In New Port Richey, the library invites kids of all ages to a birthday party today with stories, crafts, a sing-a-long and movies from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today at the New Port Richey Library, 5939 Main St. And this weekend, the Glazer Children’s Museum will be having a Seuss-tastic Weekend on Friday through Sunday with “spontaneous spectacles” all day throughout the museum in Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza. Admission is $15 for adults, $9.50 for kids.

The Harlem Globetrotters flip, they dribble, they slam dunk and they’ll make you laugh. The Harlem Globetrotters bring us this year’s star squad including Paul “Tiny” Sturgess (above), said to be the world’s tallest pro basketball player at 7-feet 8-inches, Jonte “Too Tall” Hall, said to be the shortest Globetrotter ever at 5-feet 2-inches, and Fatima “TNT” Maddox of Temple University, the team’s first female player since 1993 and ninth female in team history. $15-$136. Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-2500. 7 p.m. Saturday.

Do you feel a disturbance in the force? It’s as if a  thousand sci-fi nerds cried out in euphoria and were suddenly silenced. That’s because Tampa Bay Comic Con returns this weekend, and this year for the first time it has been expanded to two days. But wait, there’s more. This year’s convention has added a head-to-head video game competition. For nerds, this is Christmas meets New Year’s Eve. Sure, there will still be 100 tables of comics, videos, toys, action figures, anime, Star Wars memorabilia, artwork, trading cards and more. This year’s guest of honor is comic book artist-writer Jim Steranko. Admission: $15, 12 and younger $5 (convention and gaming); $10, 12 and younger free (convention only). DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Tampa Airport, 4500 W Cypress St., Tampa. (407) 619-2128. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Step Up 4 Kids at a family friendly 1-mile and 5K fun run to benefit Suncoast Hospice’s Stepping Stones program for seriously ill children and support for their families. $15 one-mile, $25 5K. Holland G. Mangum Recreation Complex, 9100 113th St. N, Seminole. (727) 467-7423. 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

In celebration of Florida’s 167th year of statehood, Jonny Reno’s and The Pier are bringing back the water ski show at the Pier, absent since 1967. There will be two ski shows at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday on the Pier at Jonny Reno’s, The Pier, 800 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg.  Free. Food and drink extra. (727) 896-7366;

At the 'Learning is WonderBull!’ Children’s Festival kids can interact with small, tame animals at the “Busch Gardens Live” booth. Also electronic photo booth, educational games and activity stations. Free. University of South Florida College of Education, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 974-7440. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Get out the poles for the Anclote Fishing Tournament Children ages 5-16 compete by age groups for longest fish and most fish caught. Parent, fishing gear and some bait required. Free. Anclote Gulf Bark Park, 2305 Baillies Bluff Road, Holiday. (727) 934-4198. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

Other family friendly diversions this week inlude:

Bear Went Over the Mountain
The Patel Conservatory Youth Theatre shows what Da Bear and his animal buddies discover when they journey up the mountain in search of adventure. $15. TECO Theater at David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. 7 p.m. today-Friday, 2  and 7 p.m. Saturday.

Jack and the Beanstalk
See the classic tale about Jack, who trades his cow for magic beans. Story includes sing-alongs. $7.50, $6.50 children. Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6793. 11 a.m. Saturday.

Spring Promenade Quince and Prom Fashion Show

See the latest in fashion styles available to celebrate a high school prom or a Latin American girl’s 15th birthday.  Proceeds  benefit the St. Leo University Minority Fund. Free. The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. (813) 503-0457. 2-5 p.m. Sunday.

Little Lucky Leprechaun Tiny Tot Theme Party
For preschoolers ages 3 to 5, parents are encouraged to stay and enjoy the games, crafts and activities with their little ones. Registration is required. $5 per child. Southwest Recreation Complex and Pool, 13120 Vonn Road, Largo. (727) 518-3125. 11 a.m.-noon today.

Bay Area Renaissance Festival
Say huzzah to the wizards, warriors and commoners who populate this replica of a 16th century village . This weekend’s theme is Buccaneer Beer Fest with a pet festival, pet market, pub crawl, arm wrestling championships, pirate “aye” eating competition (Scotch eggs), beer tasting and vow renewals. Advance: $15.95, $7.95 ages 5-12 advance. At the gat: $18.95, $14.95 seniors, $10.95 ages 5-12; $10 per pet (pet registration form required for entry). Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 983-0111. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Largo First Friday Street Festival
The businesses of Largo put on a monthly street festival with live music, street performers and art vendors. Free. First Friday Festival Location, Clearwater Largo Road S and First Avenue SW, Largo. (727) 517-6821. 6-11 p.m. Friday.

Floral City Strawberry Festival
Featuring two days of strawberry delights, more than 200 fine art and craft booths, live entertainment, contests, pageants and children’s activities. $3, 11 and younger free. Floral Park, 9530 S Parkside Ave., Floral City. (352) 795-3149. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Get Downtown First Friday Music Series
With live music, food and a lively crowd all in downtown St. Petersburg between Second and Third streets on Central Avenue. Proceeds from beer and wine sales benefits area organizations. Free; refreshments extra. (727) 393-3597. 5:30-10 p.m. Friday.

Hernando County Reading Festival
The event will include food, games and door prizes. Visitors can meet children’s authors, Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure and Tony the Balloon Guy. There will also be a  children’s book sale. Scheduled authors include 10-year-old Madeline Joan Wilks, author of Yellow Dot, Red Dot; and Nancy Stewart, author of Sea Turtle Summer. Scheduled events include John Storm’s “World of Reptiles” at 10:30 a.m., CoREADian (a.k.a. Jiggleman) at 11:30 a.m., and storyteller Windell Campbell at 12:30 p.m. Free. Nature Coast Technical High School, 4057 California St., Brooksville. (352) 797-7018. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

Island Festival
Costumed characters including pirates and the legendary hermit Silas Dent roam this island-themed event featuring live music, a scavenger hunt, an outdoor market and a car show. Free. Gulf Beaches Historical Museum, 115 10th Ave., St. Pete Beach. (727) 552-1610. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Carillon Festival
The 21st annual festival in which the 60 carillon bells ring every half hour and during daily concerts at 1 and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For the Gardens and Pinewood Estate, tickets are $16 for adults, $8 for children (5-12); gardens only: $10 and $3. Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales. (863) 676-1408. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.

St. Petersburg International Baseball
This marks the second year of competition for this series of games at Al Lang Field.  Tuesday features Canada vs. Netherlands and Wednesday features Netherlands vs. Team USA. $12.50. Progress Energy Park/Al Lang Field, 180 Second Ave. SE, St. Petersburg. (727) 551-3000. 7:05-10 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday.

Spring training is back, so look for TV schedules to fill up with baseball movies. But why settle for the small screen when one of the best movies of the genre is playing a historic local cinema? The Natural, starring Robert Redford, Robert Duvall and Glenn Close, plays Clearwater’s Capitol Theatre on Tuesday at 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets cost $5, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, March 1, 2012 6:26am]


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