Free, cheap events -- holiday edition
Whew! Can you believe that Hanukkah and Christmas are both next week? It seems like just yesterday we dressed the kids in their costumes and sent them out for trick or treating. If you're of a mind for events without tinsel, check here. But if you like your events all dressed up in red and green, here are some free and cheap activities to keep the spirit alive.
Time is drawing short to get that special photo with that jolly bearded fellow this year. Check here to find Santa and get the best shot before he heads back to the North Pole.
Actors and live animals make up the Walk through Bethlehem at Clearview United Methodist Church, 4515 38th Ave. N in St. Petersburg from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The animals may be petted and there is a live nativity scene at the end of the walk. Hot and cold beverages and cookies provided. The event is free.
If you are nuts for the Nutcracker then this is your weekend. There are several performances throughout the bay area. The Nutcracker being performed at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg is the cheapest, with tickets costing $10-$20. If you don't mind paying a little more, you can also catch performances at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg ($25-$85) or at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa ($22-$65). You can even catch a film version at the Beach Theatre for $15.
If you haven't gotten your holiday parade fix, Tarpon Springs will have its Christmas Parade beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at the corner of S Pinellas and Tarpon avenues. The parade ends at Craig Park where kids can visit with Santa and go on a candy cane hunt.
For some old-time holiday fun, check out the free movies showing at the Beach Theatre, 315 Corey Ave., St. Pete Beach. At 10 a.m. Saturday everyone's favorite Christmas kid Ralphie leads the craziness in A Christmas Story. At 7 p.m. Monday, catch the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alistair Sim as Scrooge . Christmas cartoons and sing-alongs will be shown before Scrooge fills the screen. Call (727) 360-6697 for more information.
If you're trying to get that last bit of shopping in before Thursday, the Lowry Park Zoo School is offering a Drop and Shop program for kids ages 3-8 on Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. each day. Cost is $30 for the first child and $25 for each additional child. It might be worth it to get a little no-kid shop time.
Finally, this is neither free or cheap but it seems like a fun event. The Museum of Science and Industry brings a bit of the icy north to the Sunshine State with its Winter Solstice on Saturday. Play in real snow, watch snowflakes fall and witness the nighttime sky during the day in the Saunders Planetarium. MOSI, 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa; $16.95-$20.95. Call 987-6000.
And if you get some time, bake cookies, play a board game or watch a favorite movie with your kids this weekend because being together is what the holidays are all about.
Have a great weekend!
-- Sherry Robinson
[Photos: Santa (Times files); Nutcracker (Special to the Times); Alistair Sim as Scrooge from the film A Christmas Carol]