Tampa Bay free and cheap family fun
No need to let Friday the 13th spook you. Halloween's over. It's just time to enjoy the beautiful weather in the Tampa Bay area and get out to have some fun with the family.
Although Veteran's Day has passed, the Museum of Science and Industry is still welcoming all active and retired military personnel, EMTs, firefighters and police officers for $5 through Sunday. You must present a military ID to recieve the offer. Non-military museumgoers must pay the regular rates: $25.95 ages 13-59, $19.95 ages 2-12, and $22.45 ages 60 and older. For more information, go to the MOSI Web site or call (813) 987-6000. MOSI is at 4801 E Fowler Ave. in Tampa. And from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, stop by MOSI's Visitng Exhibits Gallery and party with Radio Disney as they celebrate the upcoming Dec. 1 premiere of the ABC Family animated movie Prep and Landing. There will be music, giveaways, games and prizes.
It's festival time in the bay area and there are several going on this weekend. Novemberfest is in its 40th year at the Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon. There are rides, carnival games, food, a raffle and prizes. Hours vary throughout the weekend; start time is 4 p.m. Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday. For details call (813) 681-4608 or go to the church's Web site. The Brooker Creek Elementary Fall Festival features inflatable slides, bounce houses, pony and limo rides, a hayride and giant screen Wii. That sounds like fun. Admission is free but rides, games and food cost extra. The festival is from 5-9 p.m. Friday at the school, 3130 Forelock Road, Tarpon Springs. Ribfest has the goodness right in the name as the best rib cookers around the world gather for this event. There is a BMX stunt show, music and kids' activities. Admission is $10 advance, $15 at the gate and kids 12 and younger are admitted free with a paid adult. The fest begins at 11 a.m. Friday-Sunday at Vinoy Park, Fifth Avenue NE and North Shore Drive, St. Petersburg. Go the fest's Web site or call (727)528-3828.
Tween and teen fans -- and maybe even some Momma fans -- of the Twilight saga will want to race over to Blockbuster Video, 2045A Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, to score tickets to New Moon, which opens next week. The first 25 customers will receive two free tickets to an advance screening of the new movie. There will also be trivia contests, games and food. It's all free from 7-9 p.m. Friday. Call (727) 442-5388. And for more Twilight happenings, check out the Vampire Masquerade Ball at United Skates of America, 5121 N Armenia Ave., Tampa. Skaters are urged to dress as their favorite New Moon character. It's $8 (includes skates) from 8-11 p.m. Friday. Call (813) 876-5826.
Although this is neither free or cheap, it might be fun to hang with animal expert Jack Hanna. He's going to be spending some time at Busch Gardens this weekend and you and your family can get up close and personal with him. Have breakfast with Hanna at 8:30 a.m. Saturady and Sunday; meet him for a chat at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; enjoy a family sleepover with the adventurer as he dishes on his animal adventures beginning at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights; and go on a two-hour moonlit safari with Hanna and then sit around the campfire to hear his tales. The chat is included in park admission; breakfast and the family sleepover require separate admission. For more info and admission prices, click on the links above, call toll-free 1-888-800-5447or go to the BG Web site. Busch Gardens is at 3605 Bougainvillea Ave., Tampa.
If you prefer your outdoor activities to be a little more natural then head over to the Discover Egmont Key event at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at Fort De Soto Park, 3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde. T here will be shuttle boats to Egmont, Civil War reenactments, pirate games and more. Food, water and souvenirs will be sold. The last shuttle leaves for the island at 2 p.m. Cost is $15 and kids ages 11 and younger are admitted free. Call (727) 481-8230 or go to the Egmont Web site.
Is now the right time to get a pet for the family? Then you may want to hit the Fall Pet Adoption Expo from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. More than 400 animals will be available for adoption. It's free to get in but parking will set you back $5. For more information, call (813) 367-2078.
Speaking of pets, they will be bringing out their artistic sides at Wag-A-Tail events in St. Pete Beach on Sunday, both benefitting Southeastern Guide Dogs. Around 155 Corey Avenue, the dogs will use their tails to create original art work at 9 a.m. It's free to watch but a $5 donation per painting would be appreciated. For the details, call (727) 360-2665. Also at 9 a.m., dogs will be doing the same thing at the Yachting Gourmet, 371 Corey Ave. Call (727) 367-3618 for the info.
And check here for more family friendly events throughout the bay area. Don't spend the weekend cooped up inside. A beautiful weekend in the fall is why we live in Florida. Go enjoy it.
-- Sherry Robinson
[Magee from Prep and Landing, ABC Family; The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Summit Entertainment; Times files]