Everyone loves free.
Just ask the people who run the Glazer Children's Museum.
The museum's monthly Target Tuesdays were such a hit that officials have decided to tweak them to improve the overall experience and reach families that need it the most.
Starting April 5, the downtown Tampa museum is offering free admission to about 500 children and parents referred by the Children's Board, Metropolitan Ministries and their other community partners. People who don't receive an invite can get in at a deep discount — $2 for anyone 1 and older — thanks to funding from Target. Regular admission is $9.50 for children and $15 for adults.
Museum leaders also changed the hours to 2 to 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month to accommodate after-school kids, stay-at-home moms and parents who work at night, said spokesman Alan Mock. They wanted to spread out the crush of visitors who came after work. Previous hours were 4 to 8 p.m.
Renamed the Two Dollar Target Tuesdays, the promotion began last year as a way to give visitors a peek inside the new, $20 million attraction in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Word spread quickly among parents and mommy groups, resulting in huge lines that wrapped around the building each month.
Museum officials never turned anyone away but felt the play areas and activities got too crowded. About 2,500 people attended each month.
"We had people we knew were not coming because the line was too long,'' said Heidi Shimberg, vice president of development and marketing. "We wanted to make the Tuesday experience just as enjoyable as other days.''
Kathleen Bell of Town 'N Country drove by twice but turned away because of the wait. Finally, in February, the crowd seemed thinner so she stood in line.
"I thought it was a great way to see what it's all about and maybe we could come and spend more time,'' said Bell, who visited with her 10-year-old son, Cory, and his friend. "I'm surprised there's this many people.''
Two Dollar Target Tuesdays will run through next March. As a complement to the special admission days, Fit Kids Playground hosts Playin' in the Park with exercises for kids, snacks and entertainment. The local group works to develop healthy habits in children.