Fun 'N Sun Festival opens today in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Just about everything under the sun is going on during Clearwater's 56th annual Fun 'N Sun Festival.

It begins today with a Fourth Friday party on Cleveland Street and ends May 3 with a country music concert at Coachman Park.

In between, you can learn how to scrapbook, see a Japanese lantern festival, "gamble" Las Vegas-style, bike down Cleveland Street, raise money for cancer or hospice, brunch with the birds or attend oldies and jazz concerts.

"It's a loose collection of events around the city," said Brian Craig, Clearwater's events coordinator.

The festival began 56 years ago as a parade to keep the tourists around a little longer.

"Now, we no longer have the parade, but we've added a lot of entertainment and cultural value for the tourists and our own residents as well," he said.

The parade was dropped from last year's festival because of city budget cuts.

But don't despair.

Instead, head to the Cleveland Street District for some street partying as the Kenny McGee Band takes you back in time with hits like Brown Eyed Girl, Unchain my Heart, Walk This Way and Born to Be Wild.

Organizers have procured a fire-breathing juggler, escape artist and magician, and lined up a rock climbing wall and bounce house.

The Jolley Trolley will be providing transportation to and from the beach and more than 30 vendors will be there.

Beer, wine, soft drinks and food will be available.

"It's everything people want in a street party," said Karla Jo Helms, spokeswoman for the Clearwater Downtown Partnership.

On Saturday, get your Zen on as the Japanese Culture and Lantern Festival takes place in Station Square Park .

"It celebrates 50 years of Clearwater 's Sister City relationship with Nagano," said Chris Hubbard, the city's public art specialist.

Martial art demonstrations will include judo as well as kendo and yagyu, types of swordsmanship.

Women can learn about the proper way to wear a kimono, should the occasion ever arise.

There will be Japanese musical performances, cultural exhibits and demonstrations, and a lantern-lighting ceremony at the conclusion of the event, at about 8 p.m.

If Las Vegas is more your style, the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin will hold its first "Moonlight in Monte Carlo" casino night at the Harborview Center.

"We'll have blackjack, roulette, craps and Texas hold'em," said league spokeswoman Jill Holcomb. "It should be quite a fun night with music, dancing and appetizers."

Proceeds benefit A.N.G.E.L.S. for Foster Families, the league's signature project.

Sunday Ciclovia was rescheduled to this Sunday after nasty weather forced organizers to cancel the March 1 event.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2 miles of Cleveland Street will be shut down to car traffic and owned by bikers, skaters, joggers and dog walkers.

On May 1, a free concert takes place in Coachman Park with Tommy James and the Shondells (Crimson and Clover, Mony Mony, Crystal Blue Persuasion) and special guest Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits fame.

There's a jazz fest (a ticket event) on May 2 and a free country music concert featuring Craig Morgan and Jason Aldean on May 3.

There are some other feel-good events along the way so check out the entire schedule.

Fun 'N Sun schedule

Today

Fourth Friday, free admission, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Cleveland St., between East St. and Fort Harrison Ave. Music by the Kenny McGee Band. For more information, visit www.4thFridayClearwater.com.

Saturday

National Scrapbook Day, $35 registration fee, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Harborview Center, 300 Cleveland St. For information, call 539-6767 or e-mail sue@flwilsons.com.

Japanese Culture and Lantern Festival, free admission, 4 to 8:30 p.m., Station Square Park, 612 Cleveland St. Call 562-4809.

"Moonlight in Monte Carlo" casino night, $75 per person, 7 to 11 p.m., Harborview Center, 300 Cleveland St. Call 738-5523 or visit www.jlcd.org.

Sunday

Sunday Ciclovia multicultural street festival, free admission, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Cleveland Street, downtown Clearwater. Call 562-4047 or visit www.myclearwater.com/carfreesunday.

May 1

Q105 Fun 'N Sun "Toyota Concert" featuring Tommy James and the Shondells with special guests Herman's Hermits with Peter Noone and Thelma Houston. Free admission; artist circle seating area tickets available, $20 at www.ticketmaster.com; 5 to 11:30 p.m., Coachman Park, 301 Drew St. For information, visit www.tampabaysq105.com.

May 1 and 2

Relay For Life, American Cancer Society fundraiser, free admission, 6 p.m. to noon (on May 2), Long Center, 1501 N Belcher Road. Call 812-7021 or visit www.cancer.org.

May 2

WSJT 14th Annual Lexus of Clearwater/Lexus of Tampa Bay Smooth Jazz Fest, featuring Wayman Tisdale, Kim Waters with Maysa, Eric Darius and Keiko Matsui, noon to 11:30 p.m., Coachman Park, 301 Drew St. General admission: $10 advance, $15 day of show. Reserved seating: $20 advance, $25 day of show. Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.com.

Hospice Beach Stroll, free admission, collect pledges for a Clearwater Beach fundraising walk, 9 a.m. (registration begins at 8 a.m.), Palm Pavilion, 18 Bay Esplanade. Call 523-3420.

Brunch With the Birds, free admission with paid admission to park, 8 to 11 a.m., Moccasin Lake Nature Park, 2750 Park Trail Lane. Call 462-6024.

May 3

WQYK Fun 'N Sun Toyota Concert, featuring Craig Morgan and Jason Aldean, with special guests Heidi Newfield, Chris Young, Gloriana, Trailer Choir, Justin Moore, Carter Twins and Suite Caroline, noon to 9:30 p.m., Coachman Park , 301 Drew St. Free admission; artist circle seating area tickets available, $20 at www.ticketmaster.com.

Fun 'N Sun Festival opens today in Clearwater 04/23/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 23, 2009 8:39pm]

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