Jump-start your weekend with our top picks, newsy tidbits and Web extras.
REQUIRED ATTIRE: UGLY SWEATER
If your sweater has a needlepoint reindeer with beady eyes and a blinky nose, put it on. Really, it's perfect for any Florida snow event. And if it's also the ugliest sweater in your closet — and we so hope it is — might as well show it off at the Ugly Sweater Party at Jackson's Bistro on Friday, where the most grotesque sweaters of the night win cash prizes. Our own Stephanie Hayes will be a judge, and she's agreed to give some tips:
Think 3-D: Anything that physically juts out is an instant point booster. Puff balls are good. So are bows. Squiggly eyeballs on Santa? Yes, please.
Lights and sound: Make your sweater musical by shoving an iPod into lands unknown.
Be authentic: Tell Great-aunt Ethel you need to borrow her sweater. She'll be tickled.
For the 9 p.m. party, a $5 to $10 donation is appreciated; proceeds benefit the Tampa Children's Home. Jackson's is at 601 S Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa. (813) 265-1234.
TAMPA: HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING FESTIVAL
Kids can hit the snow slides and visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus for the official tree lighting ceremony in Joe Chillura Courthouse Square. There's also music, carnival and inflatable games, arts and crafts and free food from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Free. (813) 635-3500.
ST. PETERSBURG: SNOWFEST AND PARADE
The day starts with the huge 83rd annual Santa Parade (with grand marshal Jack Harris) beginning at First Avenue S and Fifth Street at 10 a.m. Saturday. Then dive into tons of snow amid the palm trees at North Straub Park, with toboggan slides, a simulated ice rink, moonwalk and kiddie land (for ages 3 and older). Parade is free; $5 wristband includes all other activities. (727) 893-7441.
CLEARWATER: MIRACLE ON CLEVELAND STREET
Sure seems like a miracle on Cleveland Street in Clearwater, which will be hit with 20 tons of snow Friday. Sail down two giant snow slides, visit with Santa Claus and hear holiday music from country music's Danielle Peck (I Don't, Findin' a Good Man), all in 60-some-degree sweater weather. There's also a tree lighting in Station Square Park, wreath decorating contest, activities by Busch Gardens, rescue pets for adoption and food, beer and wine vendors from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Free. Toll-free 1-888-532-5278.
OLDSMAR: CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND
The blizzard stretches to R.E. Olds Park, with a giant snow slope, inflatables, pictures with Santa, a youth holiday performance by Miss Suda's dancers (5 p.m.), pony rides and concessions from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Free admission and parking. (813) 749-1260.
TAMPA: SANTA FEST AND PARADE
So technically there's no snow at this event, but ice counts, right? Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park becomes a winter wonderland with entertainment and games, visits with Santa and a parade (begins at Morgan Street and Kennedy Boulevard, ends at Ashley Drive and Cass Street) starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. Free. (813) 251-3378. But don't forget the real ice rink under the big white tent, with 90-minute skating sessions for $10, including skate rental. The rink remains open through Jan. 2. Hours: Today and Monday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday noon-8 p.m. (813) 274-8615.