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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Ideas for getting kids outside to play

fitkids.jpgThis Saturday is Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play and lots of tennis centers in the Tampa Bay area are offering a free tennis day on the courts that day. We also have some ideas for good excuses to turn off the tube that day.

But you don’t need an official Worldwide Day of Play event to find an excuse to turn off the tube and head outside. Just check out these healthy kid-friendly activities coming up on Oct. 6:

Young Eagles Flight Rally: Kids ages 8-17 can actually take the stick in flight and explore the world of aviation for free Oct. 6. Volunteer pilots will take children on a 15-minute flight from the Clearwater Airpark, heading north over Countryside and to the gulf beaches area. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 11:30 a.m. Weather will be monitored; check eaa282.org for possible cancelation. Free. Clearwater Airpark, 1000 N Hercules Ave., Clearwater. …

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Free and cheap things to do with kids this week

superboat.jpgHallween events are already creeping up on us, bringing a price break for the first weekend of the zoo's haunts. This weekend also brings Free Museum Day, super speedy boats off Clearwater Beach and more in this week's list of free and cheap things to do with kids:

This is the first weekend for ZooBoo, Lowry Park Zoo’s annual family-friendly Halloween event with haunted houses and trails for older zoo-goers, costumed characters, boo houses and seasonal lights for little ones. Also unlimited zoo rides in the dark. It's only $10 this first weekend; $17 adults, $14 children for the rest of the dates. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552. 7-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. See more Halloween events here. …

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Free and cheap things to do with kids this week

superboat.jpgHallween events are already creeping up on us, bringing a price break for the first weekend of the zoo's haunts. This weekend also brings Free Museum Day, super speedy boats off Clearwater Beach and more in this week's list of free and cheap things to do with kids:

This is the first weekend for ZooBoo, Lowry Park Zoo’s annual family-friendly Halloween event with haunted houses and trails for older zoo-goers, costumed characters, boo houses and seasonal lights for little ones. Also unlimited zoo rides in the dark. It's only $10 this first weekend; $17 adults, $14 children for the rest of the dates. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552. 7-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. See more Halloween events here. …

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Kids get free day of tennis for Day of Play

tennis.jpgTennis anyone? As part of Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play on Oct. 6 when the channel will "go dark" so that the kids will go outside and play, tennis centers around the country are offering a free day on the courts.

Experience tennis in a social atmosphere with tennis skills challenges, games and use of modified equipment and courts tailored to a child's size. Among the locations are:

Some are offering the free day a bit earlier.

The Innisbrook tennis center is offering free tennis on Sept. 28 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the courts at 36750 U.S. 19 N in
Palm Harbor.

There will be a festival with games and obstacle courses at the Hillsborough Community College courts with prized for kids on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at 3901 Tampa Bay Blvd. Tampa.

To find an event near you, plug your Zip Code into the Youth Tennis website.  

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma

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What Halloween scares are lurking in Florida theme parks, attractions

hauntedhouse.jpgIt's that time of year again, when the best way to get your sweeties to hold your hand is to scare the bejeezus out of them with Halloween horrors at Florida's theme parks and attractions. Some go for movie-quality scares, and some go for gags over gore at these separate-ticket events set up just for the coming six weeks. Here's a look at what's in store this year, starting this weekend:

Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream …

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Will we have a year without field trips?

schoolzone.jpgOur colleague Dan Sullivan reports here that there's growing anger from parents at the new policy in Pinellas County schools that requires expensive background checks for any volunteer who is "unsupervised" with a child, as in driving a vanload of soccer players to a game or taking a carful of kids to a field trip. As we ranted last week, this is expensive window dressing that really does nothing but make the adults feel like they've done something to protect kids, yet Jerry Sandusky would have passed a Level 2 background check with flying colors. I'm trying to figure out how having 5 kids in my car constitutes being alone with a child, but that's how they see it.

I ran across this memo from DOE when the Jessica Lunsford Act was passed in 2005 that mandated Level 2 background checks for all staff and vendors at schools. Note that in Question 4 it says:

4.Does the Lunsford Act apply to school volunteers who serve as mentors or chaperones?
No, since the Lunsford Act does not apply to volunteers, the background check requirement would not apply to such persons, unless they had contracted with the district for some other reason unrelated to their duties as a volunteer. However, districts are advised that they have the discretion to establish standards applicable to volunteers, and must search volunteers against the sexual offender/predator database. See s. 943.04351, F.S.

So I'm guessing that the Legisature worried that an expensive background check would inhibit volunteers. That may very well end up being the case in Pinellas, especially for low-income families.

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Free and cheap things to do with kids this week

startrekshirt.jpgIt's free to visit the Glazer Children's Museum this weekend and there will be a birthday party in the park. There's also Star Trek night at the Rays game, a day on the farm, the Imagination Movers pay a visit, a library book sale, a messy day of fun and more in this week's list of free and cheap things to do with your kids.

It’s a Glazer Museum Birthday Bash on Sunday, as the children’s museum celebrates its second birthday with a free party in Curtis Hixon Park. Another gift: Free admission to the museum Saturday and Sunday. The party Sunday includes pony rides, birthday cake, live music, a petting zoo, face painting, balloon twisting, arts and crafts and a visit from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Street Team. The party is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. If you can’t make it, there’s $5 admission to the museum until Sept. 30. …

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Free and cheap things to do with kids this week

startrekshirt.jpgIt's free to visit the Glazer Children's Museum this weekend and there will be a birthday party in the park. There's also Star Trek night at the Rays game, a day on the farm, the Imagination Movers pay a visit, a library book sale, a messy day of fun and more in this week's list of free and cheap things to do with your kids.

It’s a Glazer Museum Birthday Bash on Sunday, as the children’s museum celebrates its second birthday with a free party in Curtis Hixon Park. Another gift: Free admission to the museum Saturday and Sunday. The party Sunday includes pony rides, birthday cake, live music, a petting zoo, face painting, balloon twisting, arts and crafts and a visit from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Street Team. The party is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. If you can’t make it, there’s $5 admission to the museum until Sept. 30. …

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Wanna get messy? Sign up by Friday

pigpen.jpgAs we told you last month, the Largo's recreation department has come up with a fun idea for a party: Mother-Son Messy Madness night. Of course my first thought was, "That's every night in my house." But this sounds ideal, since I won't be the one cleaning up the mess. This is  the last hurrah for the old Highland recreaction center, and the recreation folks tell me, "We've been given permission to trash the place."  (A new building is being constructed now and will open next June)

They'll have pizza, drinks, dessert and a special gift in this night of fun where moms and sons play lots of interactive messy games. They plan to have fun with shaving cream, whipped cream, Cheetos, loaded balloon tosses, raw egg spoon races, you get the ides.

It's going to be held Sept. 29 but you have to register by Sept. 21, that's this Friday.

The price is $20 per pair and $8 for each additional son at the Highland Recreation Complex and Family Aquatic Center, 400 Highland Ave. NE, Largo. Call (727) 518-3016

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma
 

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Swimming pool alarm available for free

Secure your doors and gates for swimming pools with Yard Guard, now available for free at the St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation administration building, 1400 19th St N.

The  security alert device can be set and mounted to various doors and gates, releasing a 120-decibel alarm to alert to unauthorized entry. It is battery operated and resets within 30 seconds.

The alarm is being made availalbe courtesy of the city of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation Aquatics and Florida Safe Pools, sponsored by Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition and All Children’s Hospital.

 
To receive your own Yard Guard, please contact (727) 893-7441 to check for availability.

Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma

 

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Father-son night at Chick-fil-A

footballthrow.jpgMonday night football gets a twist at Chick-fil-A, where it's dad's turn next Monday to get a special night out with the kids. I had fun with my boys on the Mother-Son Date Knight a few months ago, now it's time for a Father-Son Football Night. The restaurant tries to make the evenings special with games, conversation starters, special appearances and photo opportunities and special prizes and treats.

On Sept. 24, activities will focus on leadership, competition and sportsmanship. Visit chick-fil-afatherson.com to make reservations at one of 22 participating Tampa area locations. Free for the activities, but food/drink additional at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Better hurry, reservations are filling up fast.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Follow  us on Twitter@WhoaMomma

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Disney's Magic Kingdom will lift ban on alcohol

disneywine.jpgThe Magic Kingdon is getting a new attraction: alcohol.

The park had stood alone among Disney's four theme parks for leaving wine and beer off the menus, so it was notable during this week's sneak preview to the media of the newly-revamped Fantasyland in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom that the forthcoming restaurant called "Be Our Guest," will serve French wine, the French beer Kronenbourg 1664 and Belgian beers when it opens Nov. 19.

"As part of the overall theming, we wanted to offer wine that enhances the guest experience and complements the French-inspired cuisine," beverage director Stuart McGuire told the Disney Parks Blog.

Previews of the new Fantasyland, begin in November, prior to its grand opening on Dec. 6.

Beer and wine has been served for years at Disney Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. But the Magic Kingdom has always stood out for not allowing it. What do you think of this change?

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma

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Free and cheap things to do with kids this week

leopards.jpgAs fall comes on with all its busy-ness, we have lots of wallet-friendly ways to spend what little free time you have left with what little cash you have left. You can get a free meal if you don a chicken costume, 1905 prices at Columbia, a price break at the zoo and more in this week’s list of free and cheap things to do with kids:

It’s going to be a busy weekend at the Lowry Park Zoo. Saturday is Zoo Run Run, the annual 5K and children’s fun run inside the zoo and along the Hillsborough River includes admission for the day afterward. Check-in 6:30 a.m. Saturday; $35, $10 kids run. Then on Sunday, it’s the popular $5 Day at the Zoo. They only offer this price break a few times a year so it draws a crowd. This Sunday they’ve added free extra parking available by the Tampa Greyhound Track with free shuttles 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The zoo is at 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa.

Having witnessed hundreds of people willing to dress like a cow for free food at Chick-fil-A, we are guessing Pollo Tropical will have no shortage of people willing to trade their dignity for a free meal on Saturday for National Chicken Lovers Day. Pollo Tropical will give you a free quarter-chicken meal that day, complete with rice and beans, to anyone who dresses from head to toe in yellow and clucks like a chicken. The offer is good from 2 to 7 p.m. Visit pollotropical.com for locations.

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Free and cheap things to do with kids this week

leopards.jpgAs fall comes on with all its busy-ness, we have lots of wallet-friendly ways to spend what little free time you have left with what little cash you have left. You can get a free meal if you don a chicken costume, 1905 prices at Columbia, a price break at the zoo and more in this week’s list of free and cheap things to do with kids:

It’s going to be a busy weekend at the Lowry Park Zoo. Saturday is Zoo Run Run, the annual 5K and children’s fun run inside the zoo and along the Hillsborough River includes admission for the day afterward. Check-in 6:30 a.m. Saturday; $35, $10 kids run. Then on Sunday, it’s the popular $5 Day at the Zoo. They only offer this price break a few times a year so it draws a crowd. This Sunday they’ve added free extra parking available by the Tampa Greyhound Track with free shuttles 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The zoo is at 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa.

Having witnessed hundreds of people willing to dress like a cow for free food at Chick-fil-A, we are guessing Pollo Tropical will have no shortage of people willing to trade their dignity for a free meal on Saturday for National Chicken Lovers Day. Pollo Tropical will give you a free quarter-chicken meal that day, complete with rice and beans, to anyone who dresses from head to toe in yellow and clucks like a chicken. The offer is good from 2 to 7 p.m. Visit pollotropical.com for locations.

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Library to host a costume swamp -- and you can too!

babylobster.jpgThe Palm Harbor Library is once again hosting its annual Halloween Costume Swap. It's a great way to promote recycling and also help out cash-strapped parents. But you don't have to wait for the library, you can hold one of your own. The folks at Green Halloween turned me onto this idea last year when I wrote about it here. 

Call all your friends and make a party of it. Everyone brings their old costumes and you can go shopping among each other's old Batman suits and witch's hats. Save some cash, save the planet and have a fun day playing dress-up. Everybody wins!

In Palm Harbor, the annual Halloween Costume Swap is offered by the Youth Services Department of Palm Harbor Library. It begins in the Children's Room of the library on Oct. 1. Families may bring new or gently used children's costumes, sizes infant to teen, to swap for a different one. Don't have any costumes? You may make a $5 donation for each costume you take home (Limit: one costume per child). …

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