Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free and cheap things to do with your kids

shrekmusical.jpgThis is our weekend, moms, so consider this a list of things you can tell your husband to take your kids to while you relax with a magazine on the beach. Or maybe you are looking for a good reason to get out and about. Either way, we have some budget fun, from story time with free guacamole to a gorgeous pops concert in the park to a visit by Star Wars characters. Read on for more:

Did you realize moms get in free or cheap to the zoo, aquarium, history center and more this weekend? Look here for all the Mothers Day deals and events.

Cheeky Monkeys Books & Toys, which holds a story time every week at the Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Pete, will be joined this week by Chipotle for the book How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food and also Chicks and Salsa.  The kids will get to take home T-shirts and free samples, and everyone can enjoy the fruits of their labor with chips while You and Me & Music Together shares Spanish songs.  Please R.S.V.P. to cheekymonkeysbooks@gmail.com by Friday morning to ensure that your child gets a T-shirt and there are enough samples. It takes place Saturday at 11 a.m. to the left of the Al Lang Stadium entrance, under the trees. The Saturday Morning Market runs through May 28 with more than  100 local vendors including farmers, crafts, prepared foods, live entertainment and more at 180 Second Ave. SE, St. Petersburg. It runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There’s lots of chatter in the nerd-o-sphere about the new Star Tours attraction reopening next month at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can learn more about Star Tours 2 at the special mall appearance Saturday at Westfield Citrus Park Mall in Tampa on Saturday. R2-D2, C-3PO, Jedi Mickey and Leia Minnie are scheduled to appear and fans can get their pictures in front of different backdrops. It runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the mall at 8021 Citrus Park Town Center in Tampa.

This week's Pops in the Park with the Florida Orchestra should be a great date night of family outing in Tampa's gorgeous Curtis Hixon Park. Pack a picnic for the free concert in one of the nicest waterfront parks in the area. Guest conductor Joseph Mechavich leads a program of familiar symphonic favorites by Brahms and Saint-Saens, along with highlights from The Sound of Music, Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, John Williams’ Star Wars Symphonic Suite, and Tchaikovsky’s popular 1812 Overture. Also, bring canned goods to donate for Tampa Bay Harvest. It’s free at 600 N Ashley Drive on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

You can wager and watch the Kentucky Derby at the greyhound track at Derby Lane or the horse track and Tampa Bay Downs at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. This is the 137th year of “The Run for the Roses,” and it’s one of the most popular nights at the local tracks. Mint juleps will be on the bar menu, of course, and you can stick around afterward for more races. The doors open at noon at Derby Lane for early wagering both Friday and Saturday, 10490 Gandy Blvd., St. Petersburg. At Tampa Bay Downs, you can see the race on the track’s 30-foot video screen, 11225 Race Track Road , Tampa. Free admission.

If you watching the Derby at home, I have a great Kiddie Mint Julep recipe here. We even make it interesting at our house by getting that day's sports page and everyone putting a dollar down on a horse. If it comes in, they win the whole pot. If there is more than one winner, they split the pot.

The monthlong Movies in May series kicks off with Roman Holiday, the Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn romance. This monthlong series of live music and free movies in St. Petersburg’s Straub Park tonight at 7 p.m. A limited number of chairs are available for rental, or you’re welcome to bring your own chair or blanket. Music begins at 7 p.m. with movies starting at dusk at Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive.

The Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival has two great tastes that taste great together! Seafood and blues music combine for a rich gumbo at Clearwater’s waterfront Coachman Park Friday and Saturday. On stage will be Jimmy Hall and Wet Willie, among others, on Friday and Taj Mahal and the Steve Arvey Horn Band on Saturday. On the plates will be jumbo shrimp, crab cakes, oysters, crawfish, gumbo and more. Free admission vouchers are available at these locations Knolog,  3001 Gandy Blvd., Pinellas Park and Knology Oldsmar Payment Center at 3130 Tampa Road in Oldsmar. Otherwise it’s $5 at the gate. It runs 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and 12:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Give your kids a lifelong obsession with a Birdwatching Walk and Brunch. Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, the Clearwater Audubon Society will lead a walk at Moccasin Lake Nature Park in Clearwater. They will look for an incredible variety of songbirds, water birds, and raptors in a unique oak hammock. Bring binoculars and field guides. Light refreshments will be served at walk’s end. Price: $3 for ages 13 and older; $2 ages 3-12 at 2750 Park Trail Lane, Clearwater. Phone: (727) 748-6885.

This isn't free but Shrek the Musical, which runs through Sunday, is cheap by Broadway standards, with tickets that start at $38.50. Only an ogre wouldn't appreciate this family classic, along with 19 original songs.

Nearly 6,000 weighted yellow duckies with numbers will be dropped into the water to race for a Lucky Duck Race for the finish line for cash prizes. There will also be an interactive fun zone for kids including “tales” about Winter the dolphin. Proceeds benefit the Magic Beans Village Foundation, the Safety Harbor Museum and the Elena Tresh Foundation. $10 duck sponsorship; kids activities $3-$5. Safety Harbor City Marina, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor. (727) 412-8522. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.

Antibullying is the theme of this month’s Book Nook by the Bay event featuring the book The Treasure Hunt Three and Judge Mia’s Decree, by Brenda Damley Martin. The day also includes an antibullying activity and craft with the seahorse. Included with daily admission. $5 adults, $4 students/seniors, 6 and younger free. Pier Aquarium, 800 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 803-9799. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Climbers age 6 and older can indulge their deepest desire (and their parents' worst fears) at Canopy Tree Climbing on Saturday.  Ascend into the heights of a live oak using harnesses and a rope pulley system similar to those used in the Amazon rain forests. Organized by Pathfinder Outdoor Education. $10. Lakeview Presbyterian Church, 1310 22nd Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 328-0300. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

There's a Family Fun Fest Saturday with face painting, child fingerprinting, kids crafts, a Spinning Wheel Contest, Lollipop Lottery and a drawing for a free sports physical. Free. StatMed Urgent Care, 1033 W Bay Drive, Largo. (727) 386-4114. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

It's warming up so celebrate the Highlander Pool Opening. There will be a picnic to celebrate the opening of the pool with inflatables, games, music, races and a picnic lunch for everyone. Free. Highlander Pool, 1937 Ed Eckert Drive, Dunedin. (727) 298-3266. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Saturday is the Hillsborough Reads Kick-Off which encourages the community to spend one month reading about Florida’s past. Festivities include Florida History speakers, pioneer activities and crafts for kids. Free. Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa. (813) 228-0097. 11 a.m. Saturday.

Saturday is also Kid’s Day at the Village Games, animals, inflatables, putting greens and a visit by Summer Santa Claus. Free. Carrollwood Village Millennium Garden, 4535 W Village Drive, Tampa. (813) 842-7066. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

There's lots of free movies for a cheap night out:

  • Movies in the Park It’s “Bring Your Favorite Toy Night” with a viewing of Disney’s Toy Story 3.  Free. Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 586-7415. 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Sensory Friendly Films AMC Theatres and the Autism Society together present this special series of films in an environment friendly to those with autism and other sensory issues. This portion features Disney’s African Cats. $8, $7 ages 2-12. Woodlands Square 20, 3128 Tampa Road, Oldsmar. Toll-free 1-888-262-4386. 10 a.m. Saturday.
  • Sunset Cinema at Pier 60 Bring blankets to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features the PG-rated film Yogi Bear, and Saturday features the PG-13 rated film Catch Me If You Can. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Starts around dusk. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 4:48pm]

    

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