Free Comic Book Day: Every year on the first Saturday in May, comic book stores across the country open their doors to give away comic books, but they also host art activities, meet and greets with artists, author signings and, of course, costumed characters aplenty. Follow the trail of superheroes to Yancy Street Comics, 9409 U.S. 19 in Port Richey, as well as Heroes' Haven Comics in Tampa, Emerald City in Seminole and Clearwater, Wonder Water in Clearwater and North Tampa Branch Library in Tampa. Activities and times vary by location. See the website freecomicbookday.com for all participating stores.
May the Fourth parties: As parties go, the force is strong with Friday (May 4), as in "May the Fourth be with you." Hipster Ybor hangout The Bricks has music by DJ Cub and prizes for costumes, 1327 E Seventh Ave., Tampa. In St. Petersburg, Fubar holds a Death Star Dance Party with costumes and "enough booze to pull the pants off a Gundark.'' With light sabers and howl like a Wookiee contests at 658 Central Ave. No cover.
Rock the Park: This special edition of the free music series will feature the tbt* Ultimate Local Artists of 2012. This is the sixth year the editors of the paper, which is published by the Tampa Bay Times, are presenting the top 10 Tampa Bay area musicians. They chose to spotlight the hybrid sounds of indie alt-rockers Drake and Sofia, alt-country blues players the Groves, country punk Crash Mitchell and Tampa's favorite shoegazers Sleepy Vikings, as well as several other hot acts making sonic waves throughout the Tampa Bay area's live music scene. They take the stage at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. In addition to live music, there will be food and beverages on site. Free.
Kentucky Derby: Grab a big fancy hat and a strong minty drink because the "most exciting two minutes in sports" is the centerpiece of Kentucky Derby parties around the Tampa Bay area. You can actually wager on the race at the watch parties at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg or the Tampa Bay Downs horse track in Tampa. Post time is 6:30 p.m. Saturday but both gambling meccas open at 10 a.m. for early races, with a bar stocked with mint juleps. Free admission.
Story time in the park: Two nature parks this weekend combine story time with some time outside for kids. Saturday at 10:30 a.m. is Stories in the Park at McGough Nature Park, 11901 146th St. N, Largo. Join park rangers for a morning story, a hike through the park and snacks with your kids for $3 per family. Every Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. it's time for Jungle Boogie with kids at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. Children ages 3 to 4 can join in the fun with a nature story, crafts and outdoor exploration. It's $2.50. (727) 893-7326.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer