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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap things to do with your kids



whitehousesand.jpgCheck out the huge sand sculptures going up on Treasure Island for the next week's Republican National Convention or you can check out the preparations before it gets crazy in downtown Tampa while you take advantage of free admission to a museum. Or you can go in the opposite direction and take your dog to swim at a city pool or take the kids fishing a  free tournament. We've got that and more in this week's list of free and cheap things to do with kids this week

There's a giant Sand Sculpture Display almost finished and if the weather is kind will be up through the week with replicas of President Abraham Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House behind the Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island.

It’s free to tour the Tampa Museum of Art for Art on the House starting at 4 p.m. Friday (and this might be a good time to check out all preparations for the Republican National Convention). You might want to build extra time into getting there since the museum is in the heart of downtown Tampa and the heart of the RNC madness and congestion is starting to build. Current exhibits include “Masterworks of 20th Century Sculpture and Art of the Poison Pens,” a collection of political cartoons. The Tampa Museum of Art is at 120 Gasparilla Plaza.

The lake behind the St. Petersburg Main Public Library hosts the annual Dennis Crenshaw Memorial Fish-a-thon for both kids and adults. Fishing takes place in nine 15-minute periods ending with judging for prizes in age groups. Fishing poles and bait provided. No personal fishing equipment allowed. Starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Free. The library is at 3745 Ninth Ave. N. (727) 893-7441.

One of Hillsborough County’s prettiest patches of green, the 240-acre Lettuce Lake Park just outside the city limits of Tampa is loaded with alligators, turtles, snakes, birds and armadillos. At 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, park rangers will lead a tour through the boardwalk area and along Hillsborough River. Those brave enough can climb the five-story observation tower for a scenic view. Stay afterward for a picnic or take the kids to the playground. There’s also a bicycle path/jogging trail, complete with a fitness course, that meanders through the park. A new canoe launch area has boats for rent to experience a whole new side of the park. The tour is free, and it’s $2 per vehicle for park entry, 6920 E Fletcher Ave., Tampa.

dogswim.jpgIt will be dog paddling only on Saturday when St. Petersburg’s Fossil Park Pool holds its annual end-of-summer Dog Swim Day, opening up the pool to pups. There will be three sessions — 9 to 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 to 2:30 p.m. — of leash-free swim and play for dogs. Register at the pool with proof of the dog’s current vaccination. No swimming for humans. It’s $5 per session for dogs, humans free at 6739 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7732.

Time to P-I-N-G! The Summer Sizzler Table Tennis Tournament is open to all skill levels and includes pizza and drinks. It's Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. $15. St. Pete Beach Community Center and Horan Park, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach. (727) 323-3519.

You get a movie of pure imagination Saturday when the summerlong Capitol Classics Family Movie Series closes with a showing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder. 3 p.m. $5. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.

Hear Ted talk on Tuesday. As the RNC is in town to officially declare their nominee for president, Teddy Roosevelt (a.k.a. historian Michael Norton) will discuss his time in Tampa and the Tampa Bay Hotel during the Spanish American War during a tour of the historic Henry B. Plant Museum. 2 p.m. $10; Members free. 401 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 254-1891.

More family friendly events this week:

Airport Barbecue
Daviation Aerial Tours and Flight Training offers free barbecue while visitors learn more about airplanes and what it takes to be a pilot. Aerial tours and sightseeing rides available starting at $29. Free. St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport, 14700 Terminal Blvd., Clearwater, Hangar 6B. (727) 216-6677. Noon-4 p.m. Saturday.
Back to School Workshop
Tips on learning, focusing and bully prevention for children in grades 1-5. Topics include “Five Ways to Show Respect to a Teacher,” “Five Ways to Listen in Class” and “How to Turn Bullies into Buddies.” Free. Superkicks Family Martial Arts Center, 1401 Pasadena Ave. S., South Pasadena. (727) 384-5425. 11 a.m. Saturday.
Carrollwood Cultural Center Children’s Theater Series
The Atlantic Coast Theatre for Youth presents a production of Sherlock Holmes and the Opera Mystery. Based on the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the show follows the detective as he investigates a diamond theft at London’s Royal Opera House. $7, $6 members, $24 family four pack. Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa. (813) 269-1310. 2 p.m. Sunday.
Elmer the Elf
For those already in the Christmas spirit in August, this Carrollwood Players Theatre show follows a set of misfortunes in delivering Santa’s presents and an elf who dreams of helping deliver them. $12. Carrollwood Playhouse, 4335 Gunn Highway, Tampa. (813) 265-4000. 8 p.m. today-Saturday.
Farm Open House
With hay rides, horse rides, DJ dancing, games, a bounce house and face painting. $2, $5 additional horse rides. Saddle Up Riding Club, 6080 94th Ave., Pinellas Park. (727) 520-3132. 2-6 p.m. Saturday.
 Fourth Friday Food Truck Festival
This month, more than a dozen food trucks bring a variety of foods, with music from Joel and Dakato and citrus wine tasting of more than 17 varieties at participating merchants (while supplies last). Also, the St. Petersburg Astronomy Club sets up for a summer night viewing. Local merchants remain open late. Corey Avenue area, St. Pete Beach. (727) 498-8778. 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday.
Going Coastal
In “Fun with Fish Ear Bones ... Can You Hear Me Now?” participants learn about fish ear bones, called otoliths, which tell us many things about the fish and the water where they live. Free (registration required). Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 582-2100. 1-3 p.m. Saturday.
Heart and Hope
This event is designed to help bring individuals who are at risk, families who have children with disabilities and the professionals that serve them awareness to options and rights that are available to them within the school system and beyond. Includes multilingual workshops, exhibitors, free lunch, guest speakers, a kids camp, door prizes and an IEP clinic with one-on-one assistance. Free. Dunedin Highland Middle School, 70 Patricia Ave., Dunedin. (727) 523-1130. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Jungle Boogie
This week features “In a Grasshopper’s World.” Observe and learn about grasshoppers and their habitat, for ages 3 to 4. $3. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 11 a.m.-noon Wednesday.
Open House and Family Fun Day
Take a tour of the Family Aquatic Center, sign up for classes and play in playground. Other activities include a Touch-a-Truck, bounce houses, blood drive, Wii games, “chill” in the Teen Room, enter the video game challenge and do make and take crafts. Free. Holland G. Mangum Recreation Complex, 9100 113th St. N, Seminole. (727) 391-8345. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.
Park Ranger Nature Educational Programs
Rangers guide children ages 9 to 15 through a variety of fun and informative activities. This weekend features “Coffee Plants, Roasting Beans and Saving the Birds.” $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. Saturday-Sunday.
South Tampa Food Truck Rally
Not far from the action during the Republican National Convention, Tasting Tampa and Hyde Park Presbyterian Church will bring together a fleet of food trucks along with a bounce house, playground and music. Hyde Park Presbyterian Church, 1309 W Swann Ave., Tampa. 4 p.m. Saturday.
Wee-time at Weedon
This portion features Nancy Loewen’s book Hungry Hoppers: Grasshoppers in Your Backyard, a book of grasshopper facts. Includes story related crafts, games and activities. Best for ages 3 to 5. Free (registration required). Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 453-6500. 10:30-11:15 a.m. today.
You and Me and Music Together
A free demonstration of a class that incorporates music, instruments, singing and fun for children up to age 5 and their parents. Free. St. Pete Beach Community Center and Horan Park, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach. (813) 409-4244. 10 a.m. Monday.
Film Series
Capitol Classics Family Movie Series
The summer closes with a showing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson and Peter Ostrum. $5. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. 3 p.m. Saturday.
 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 film Dolphin Tale, starring local dolphin Winter, and Saturday features the PG-13 rated film War Horse. No alcohol. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Shows start at dusk.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, August 23, 2012 7:39am]


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