Free and cheap things to do with your kids
Is that change purse of yours getting lower by the day? Here's some free and cheap distractions this week:
The forecast calls for snow in Florida! Snow way! First there's the Clearwater Miracle on Cleveland Street. It sure seems like a miracle when it will be hit with 20 tons of snow Friday. Sail down two giant snow slides, visit with Santa Claus and hear holiday music from country music’s Danielle Peck (I Don’t, Findin’ a Good Man), all in 60-some-degree sweater weather. There’s also a tree lighting in Station Square Park, wreath decorating contest, activities by Busch Gardens, rescue pets for adoption and food, beer and wine vendors from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Free. Toll-free 1-888-532-5278. At the Oldsmar: Christmas Wonderland the blizzard
stretches to R.E. Olds Park, with a giant snow slope, inflatables, pictures with Santa, a youth holiday performance by Miss Suda’s dancers (5 p.m.), pony rides and concessions from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Free admission and parking. (813) 749-1260. At the St. Petersburg: Snowfest and Parade, the day starts with the huge 83rd annual Santa Parade (with grand marshal Jack Harris) beginning at First Avenue S and Fifth Street at 10 a.m. Saturday. Then dive into tons of snow amid the palm trees at North Straub Park, with toboggan slides, a simulated ice rink, moonwalk and kiddie land (for ages 3 and older). Parade is free; $5 wristband includes all other activities. (727) 893-7441. And finally the Tampa Santa Fest and Parade technically doesn't have snow, but ice counts, right? Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park becomes a winter wonderland with holiday entertainment and games, visits with Santa and a parade (begins at Morgan Street and Kennedy Boulevard, ends at Ashley Drive and Cass Street) starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. Free. (813) 251-3378. But don’t forget the absolutely real ice rink under the big white tent, with 90-minute skating sessions for $10, including skate rental. The rink remains open through Jan. 2. Hours: Today and Monday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday noon-8 p.m. (813) 274-8615.
All your basic components for a Fall Harvest of Art in Florida: art, music and mermaids. The 37th annual juried art and craft show includes a jazz and music festival featuring the Hernando Jazz Society, children’s activities and food vendors. The best part: All the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park attractions — Mermaid Show, Wilderness River Cruise, Animal Show — are included in the $5 admission ($3 kids). It runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee. Presented by the Spring Hill Art League. (352) 597-7435. weekiwachee.com.
On Sunday, from 8 to 10 a.m., Westshore Plaza in Tampa will open their doors to children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome to visit with Santa. The lights will be dimmed, no crowds or music. It is called Sensitive Santa, and it's a great way to give a special day to kids who need a little help enjoying the Big Guy. Kudos to Westshore!
Activate your kids’ brains and muscles (don’t miss the firehouse pole slide!) for Target Free Tuesdays at the Glazer Children’s Museum. The new hands-on museum opens its doors for free play time from 4-8 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month through March. Kids can climb to the ceiling, piece together X-rays and play in fake, no-mess sand at 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861.
Tour the Museum of Science and Industry’s exhibits and catch a standard IMAX film (The Ultimate Wave Tahiti) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday for $5 Day at MOSI. And from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., get a demonstration on the science behind the circus with the Ringling Bros. clowns (shows at 11:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.). For an extra $5, you can see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in IMAX (so that’s $10 total; see mosi.org for show times). The museum is at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000.
The fact that the Pinellas Trail Turns 20 shows what a difference a few decades makes. More than two decades ago, the paved trail was an iffy idea. Now it’s a 34 mile-long paved pathway from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs used by thousands of runners, bicyclists and skaters. To mark the anniversary, folks will gather at the original location where the trail began in Taylor Park in Largo for a ceremony and food at 10 a.m. Saturday. Free. (727) 480-3515.
Harry Potter fans, you know you want to see the movie again, and if you haven’t yet seen Deathly Hallows: Part 1, here’s a fun way to do so, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa Dec. 11. The MOSI Muggle Masquerade for fans ages 12-17 starts at 7:30 p.m. with a Hogwarts celebration of food, drink, games and magic, including MOSI’s take on Butterbeer, and culminates in the movie showing in the IMAX Dome Theatre. You can dress as a muggle or your favorite Potter character. Cost is $18 for MOSI members, $25 for non-members.
Tampa Theatre kicks off its holiday movie series with The Nightmare Before Christmas. The 1993 film co-written by Tim Burton uses stop-motion animation to tell the tale of Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, who is tired of scaring people, so he kidnaps Santa and tries to take his place, delivering horrifying gifts to all the kids. Sing along with the Mighty Wurlitzer organ before the movie. Doors open at 2 p.m. Sunday, movie at 3. $9 at 711 Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 274-8982.
For the adults, Charlie Daniels, the man who famously out-fiddled the Devil in a stringed showdown (and more recently, proved Geico to be an appropriate auto insurance choice), will hold the 20th edition of charity golf, poker and music event “Charlie-Palooza.” Proceeds will go to the Angelus, a local facility for severely handicapped children. A top session-musician-turned-Southern rock/country/boogie/bluegrass-bandleader, Daniels is best known for the down-home, spoken word tune Devil Went Down to Georgia. He suffered a mild stroke earlier this year, but has since made a full recovery. Because that’s how you do it, son. The show, with Little Texas, Confederate Railroad is Saturday at 6 p.m. Dallas Bull, 3322 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $20. (813) 987-2855.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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