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Honeymoon Island to host earth-friendly fun weekend

DUNEDIN

Island Earth Days 2009 will bring outrigger and kayak races, steel drum bands, guided hikes, and a myriad of eco-friendly activities and products to the unspoiled beauty of Honeymoon Island State Park.

Little explorers can dig up some fun at the Rotary Centennial Nature Center or paint flags to represent environmental themes.

Adults can create rain barrels or purchase natural products like organic lawn fertilizers, handmade dog biscuits or reusable shopping bags.

The earthy celebration was seeded in 2002 by Friends of the Island Parks, a nonprofit organization that supports Honeymoon and Caladesi islands. Last year, the group raised $20,000 from this signature event and, with the help of other income-producing activities and donations, contributed $54,000 to the two parks.

The festival began as many do, with carnival games and activities. It has greened up over the years.

"We've changed because we felt the state parks were all about enjoying the natural environment and our fundraisers should reflect that," said Barry Metcalfe, president of the Friends group. "It feels more comfortable that way."

One new activity is "Build a Boat in a Day." Families will work together to build precut, wooden, 8-foot-long, flat-bottomed boats. Kits cost about $300, and the kinfolk may keep the boat to sail or row. Several families are slated to partake in the activity between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday in the picnic area toward the northern end of the island. Spectators will have the opportunity to sign up for future workshops.

"We felt that this would be a way for families to do more together," Metcalfe said.

For $35, one can assemble and take home a rain barrel. It will surely come in handy for washing cars or irrigating plants during the water shortage.

At noon Saturday, the new Hawaiian Outrigger Race will launch from the south beach. Eleven 45-foot boats are coming from all over the state, each manned by a crew of six.

"If the weather holds, it will be a spectacular sight," Metcalfe said. The canoe outriggers will race from Honeymoon to Caladesi Island and back.

On Sunday at 10 a.m., the Shark Bite Challenge, a canoe, kayak and paddleboard race, provides both social paddlers and serious competitors a chance to vie for trophies with 4- and 8-mile courses.

Register beginning at 8:30 a.m. Sunday or online at active.com. The entry fee is $25.

A musical lineup includes steel drum bands, a Polynesian dance act, reggae, Celtic sounds and Hawaiian harp music.

The menu is as diverse as the island itself with Greek food, seafood, steak hoagies, barbecue chicken, hamburgers, bratwurst and veggie specialties. Beer and wine also will be available.

Tickets will be on sale for prizes that include a Trek bike, weekend getaways, and a 32-inch flat screen TV.

Metcalfe, who hails from England with his wife, Melanie, said they were compelled to get involved with the preservation of parks.

"We think the state and national parks are one of the real gems of living in America," he said. "It's amazing how many beautiful parks you have here."

if you go

Island time

Island Earth Days 2009 takes place this weekend at Honeymoon Island State Park, at the end of the Dunedin Causeway.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Park entrance fee of $5 per vehicle (maximum of eight people per vehicle)

Dogs: Welcome on a 6-foot leash

Information: Call (727) 738-2903 or visit

celebratewithfriends.com

Honeymoon Island to host earth-friendly fun weekend 04/16/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 16, 2009 5:23pm]

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