Dragon boat racing
With the Jose Gaspar and its pirates parked until Jan. 30, this is a great springtime event along Tampa's Garrison Channel that brings out fierce competition and benefits charities. The colorful spectacle is now in its sixth year and features 70 teams, most local, but some from other states and even Canada, rowing like mad in a 45-foot dragon boat from east to west in the channel. Members of the teams also raise money through pledges. If you know someone on a team, go cheer them on, because it's tough work with three races of 450 meters apiece. Even if you aren't involved, it's a fun event to watch. (Our tip: We enjoyed the view from the rooftop pool and bar area at the Marriott Waterside — but we'll leave it to you about how to get up there.) There will be food, beverages and entertainment throughout the day in the athlete's village at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, and Asia Fest occurs simultaneously on the St. Pete Times Forum patio. The first race Saturday is at 8:30 a.m., and the final awards ceremony will be at 4:30 p.m.
Freebie Alert: comic books
If you're one of those people who still gets a pang when you go through the checkout line and see an Archie comic, we've got a deal for you. Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, and many local independent comic book stores are participating. That means when you walk in the door, you get a free comic book. Now you can't just grab one off the rack. They have special issues they'll be giving away. But with Star Wars, GI Joe, Cars and even good old Archie, you'll still have plenty of titles to choose from. So how do you know where you can get one? We counted six spots listed in our area: House of Cards, Wonder Water Cards & Comics, Demolition Comics, Emerald City Comics (two stores) and Beyond Books. To find out more, go to freecomicbookday.com.
Set the DVR: Summer movies of yore
We're not sure if all of these are, in fact, summer releases, but they have some of the key elements that make them fit this issue's theme. First up: dinosaurs, when The Lost World: Jurassic Park airs at 8 p.m. Friday on Bravo. (Now careful, this isn't the 1993 original, but it still has that great dinosaur action.) Next up: sequels and kid appeal with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabanat 7 p.m. Saturday on WFTS-Ch. 28. And get ready for the granddaddy of them all: star power, explosions and pure popcorn appeal with 1996'sIndependence Day, starring the king of summer movies, Will Smith. It's at 8 p.m. Sunday on A&E.
Lots of cheer
Get ready for handsprings, pyramids and lots of team spirit at Cheer America on Saturday and Sunday at the Florida State Fairgrounds Special Events Center in Tampa. Hundreds of cheerleaders ages 5 to 15 from throughout Florida will do their best to say "We're Number 1!" at the end of the day. Expect lots of screaming from the cheerleaders who will be working hard to get the crowd pumped. "Okay! Let's go" from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to the competition at Interstate 4 and U.S. 301 N. Admission is $7 in advance, $10 at the door and free for kids 3 and younger. Parking is $5. For information, call (813) 885-2292.