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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap things to do with your kids



From the X Games-meets-Broadway adrenaline shot of motocross madness known as Nuclear Cowboyz to the caramelicious custard at Flan Fest and Fiesta Day in Ybor to sweet celebrations of the birthday of Dr. Seuss, we have lots of free and cheap ways to spend time as a family this week.

seuss.jpgHappy birthday, Dr. Seuss! The birthday of the late Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) is Wednesday, and around the Tampa Bay area, schools and libraries are celebrating the whimsical art and touching philosophy of the master of children’s literature. A special exhibit showcasing his art at Syd Entel Galleries, 247 Main St., Safety Harbor, is having a celebration for kids at 11:30 a.m. Saturday with visits by the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch reading for children. At 6 p.m. there’s a more adult reception because — who are we kidding? — we’re still fans. Both are free. Then on Monday,  you can hear a lecture on the life and times of Dr. Seuss, “From Political Cartoonist to the Cat in the Hat” by Jeff Schuffman, a representative of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, owner of the Seuss brand. He will talk at 7 p.m. at the Safety Harbor Library, 101 Second St. N. And on Saturday, all  Target stores will have free Seuss fun and story time from 9 to 11 a.m.

nuclear.jpgWait, there’s a story to the Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos motocross show? Who cares! Bring on the side-by-side quadruple backflips! The fire! Crank up the volume with nonstop rock music, ramps, jumps, dancers and acrobats and no one will give a flip about a plot. We are a tiny bit curious how the Nuclear Cowgirlz figure into the show, but we can guess. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. Tickets start at $10 for ages 2 to 15 and $20 for adults. (813) 301-2500. You can meet some of the performers for free at 8 p.m. Friday at Splitsville, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa. In addition to signing autographs and posing for pictures, they will raffle show tickets, jerseys and Nuclear Cowboyz merchandise. (813) 514-2695.

Saturday is Flan Fest & Fiesta Day in Ybor City These two complementary festivals turn Ybor City into a party. At Flan Fest, the flan-tastic caramel custard has elbowed its way to center stage with a flan-eating contest and sampling in Ybor City’s Centennial Park. At the same time, there’s Fiesta Day, about the Cuban , German , Italian  and Spanish immigrants who made the cigars and the city. There’s an arts marketplace, lots of ethnic food and, of course, music for dancing in the streets in and around the Italian Club, 1731 E Seventh Ave. Both start at 11 a.m. Saturday. Free admission.

You can see a Civil War Re-enactment this weekend. The Blue and the Gray re-enact the Battle of Ballast Point at Fort De Soto this weekend. The 97th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Re-enactment Regiment hosts this American Civil War weekend encampment open to the public 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, with a battle re-enactment at 1:30 p.m. daily. Other Civil War-era activities include period settlers and vendors, a mock military trial and execution, ladies’ afternoon tea, drum and fife music performances and Civil War medical demonstrations. It’s free at Fort De Soto Park, 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde.

Do you have a Sci-Fi fan in your house? Practice your Vulcan salute before beaming into the Sci-Fi Convention this weekend in Tampa, featuring meet-and-greets and photo ops with stars like Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow). You can also hit the Klingon Bar, Viva Vulcan Variety Show and panels addressing important issues like Shape Shifting Zombie Space Pirates. Other stars scheduled to appear include J.G. Hertzler (DS9 and Star Trek: Voyager), Robert O’Reilly (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Steven Culp (Star Trek: Enterprise and Desperate Housewives), Lee Arenberg (Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Trek: The Next Generation), Martin Klebba (Pirates of the Caribbean and CSI: New York) and Peter David (author of Star Trek: New Frontier). Tickets are $40 advance, $55 at the door (photo ops additional). It runs 5 p.m.-midnight Friday, 8 a.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at the Doubletree Hotel, 4500 W Cypress St., Tampa. (401) 488-5226;

Or do you have a wrestling fan in your house?  Professional wrestler Chris Jericho — an insightful and funny observer of pro wrestling’s absurd universe — will sign copies of his latest book, Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps. It picks up where his last New York Times bestselling book left off, as Jericho in 1999 joined Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Enterprise, and he hilariously details these key years as WWE’s resident bad guy. The event is free (though the book’s not) at 7 p.m. Friday at Barnes & Noble Carrollwood, 11802 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, but wristbands will be given out starting at 2 p.m. (813) 962-6446.

Family-friendly activities are scheduled throughout the Chili Cook-Off and Open House event, including a Jaws of Life demonstration, puppet shows, station tours, engine rides and chili tasting (donation accepted). Free refreshments will be available. The Chili Cook-Off will feature teams from the city of Largo. All proceeds to benefit the Children’s Burn Foundation of Florida. Free. Largo Fire Rescue Station 41, 180 Fourth St. SW, Largo. (727) 587-6737. 2-5 p.m. Saturday.

Justin Bieber’s back-up dancer, Kanec, will teach an advanced level hip-hop class for dancers ages 10 and older. The class is limited to 30 dancers, so pre-registration is required. $20. The Studio Dance Company, 2440 State Road 580, Suite 8, Clearwater. (727) 724-5999. Noon-1 p.m. Saturday.

See the stage version of Jungle Book. Join Mowgli as he embarks on a life being raised by wolves and his misadventures with his new friends. $9.50-$13.50. Ferguson Hall at David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday.

Mallory Lewis, daughter of children’s entertainer Shari Lewis, brings sock puppet Lamb Chop for several shows during the Pasco County Fair. Show is included with fair admission. $8, $5 ages 6-12, 5 and younger free. Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 SR 52, Dade City. (352) 567-6678. 5, 7 and 8:30 p.m. today-Friday; 2:30, 5:45 and 8:15 p.m. Saturday.

Follow the journey of a prideful young prince into compassionate manhood in the stage version of The Frog Bride. The adaptation of the Russian fairy tale uses the music of Prokofiev and the art of Kandinsky. $10. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. Noon Saturday.

See The Stars of Winter at the Planetarium at St. Petersburg College. This show exploring the sights, stars and planets of the winter skies over Tampa Bay. Children must be 5 or older to attend. Free. St. Petersburg College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 7 and 8:15 p.m. Friday.

The Family Fun Fair includes hayrides, a petting zoo, children’s games, face painting, balloons and clowns, craft fair, country fair with prizes, helicopter rides ($25), Ping-Pong tournament, basketball super shot contest, paintball ($20), basketball tournament, musicals and drama shows, inflatables, dunk tank, belly flop contest, softball tournament, beach volleyball contest and lip-synch contest. Food available. Free admission and parking. Word of Life Auditorium, 13247 Word of Life Drive, Hudson. (727) 379-5008. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Shows start around dusk. Friday is Radio (PG); Saturday is The Great Debaters (PG-13.) Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060.

The Junior Birding Workshop is designed for youth 16 and younger, this class includes a bird walk and youth-oriented introduction to birding. Bird identification materials and binoculars provided. Children 12 and younger must be accompanied by an adult participant. Reservations required. Chinsegut Nature Center, 23212 Lake Lindsey Road, Brooksville. (352) 754-6722. 10 a.m.-noon Saturday.

At the Wildflower Walk you can learn to identify Florida wildflowers and enjoy their beauty in a guided stroll through the preserve. $3 adults, $1.50 children. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326. 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Cooler temperatures and shorter days bring about many changes during the winter months. Join guides on a brisk 2.8- to 4-mile Winter Wonders Walk along one of the preserve’s longer trails. Free. Brooker Creek Preserve, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. (727) 453-6800. 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday.

The world of baseball has arrived. St. Petersburg International Baseball is a 13-game spring series that includes some of the world’s best baseball teams paired against some of America’s Major League Baseball franchises and college squads. $6, $10 reserved (regular game); $10, $13 reserved (MLB games). Progress Energy Park/Al Lang Field, 180 Second Ave. SE , St. Petersburg. (727) 551-3000. Today at 7 p.m. features the Seoul Nexen Heroes against St. Pete College. Canada against the Seoul Nexen Heroes at 2 p.m. Saturday, Beach State against Canada at 1 p.m. Sunday, the Seoul Nexen Heroes against Canada at 1 p.m. Monday, the Seoul Nexen Heroes against the Netherlands at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Canada against St. Pete College at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 3:19pm]


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