ZOOM IN: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Now in its 12th year, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg once again puts downtown St. Petersburg in the spotlight for the opening race for the Verizon IndyCar series. Racing begins at about 7:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday. The Bucs' star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is grand marshal on Sunday to give the command for drivers to start their engines to race through the streets on the 1.8-mile long waterfront course with 14 turns. Tickets are $50-$135 at gpstpete.com. There is a park-and-ride shuttle from Tropicana Field from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Parking there is $10, and shuttle buses are free. Friday night brings racers of a different sort for the Grand Prix 5K, with runners taking a lap around the track starting at Turn 9 to benefit All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine. Online registration is closed for the 5K, but participants can also register at the starting line by North Straub Park and Bayshore Drive 4-6 p.m. Friday; $30-$35. The race starts at 6:30 p.m. and there will be a Fast Friday family-friendly party in North Straub Park with a free showing of Cars on the lawn at 7:30 p.m. Saturday will bring a free showing at 7:30 p.m. of the cult classic Cannonball Run starring Burt Reynolds, also on the lawn in North Straub Park.
BOOKED UP: Florida Antiquarian Book Fair
Book worms will get their fill this weekend. The 35th annual collection "From Papyrus to Paperbacks" at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair includes more than 100 specialized dealers from across the country selling out-of-print books, first editions, maps and other paper collectibles. It's open 5-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $10 admission is good all weekend or $6 daily, 12 and younger free at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Meanwhile, the SunLit Festival of literature continues with events including a Jack Kerouac documentary about the Beat writer's time in Tampa and St. Petersburg, $5 at 7 p.m. Sunday, Studio @620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Find the full lineup at sunlitfestival.org.
MAKE A SPLASH: Water park season is here
Just in time for spring break, both Adventure Island and Legoland Water Park open Saturday for swimsuit season. And there's a deal right now that gives you a free Adventure Island pass good for all season (through October) with a $99 Fun Card at Busch Gardens, available through March 31 at buschgardens.com. One-day tickets at Adventure Island, 10001 McKinley Drive, Tampa, are $44 advance online or $51 adult, $46 child at the gate. At Legoland, you have to go through the theme park to get to the water park, where you will find a Build-a-Raft River, Duplo Splash Safari, the Joker Soaker playground, wave pool and numerous water slides. It remains open through Oct. 30. $75, $65 seniors and ages 3-12 at Legoland Florida, 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven. legolandflorida.com.
GREEN ALREADY: Early St. Patrick's Day fun
St. Patrick's Day may fall on March 17, but you wouldn't know that from the looks of things this weekend. On Saturday, Ybor City will be awash in green for the Rough Riders St. Patrick's Night Parade, with krewes from across Florida celebrating with green beads, floats and more 7-11 p.m. Saturday on E Seventh Avenue. The Lucky Dill in Palm Harbor and O'Keefe's Tavern in Clearwater will host weeklong celebrations with tons of corned beef and cabbage, green beer and entertainment. Paddyfest at Ferg's Live on Channelside Drive in Tampa has a multitude of events and parties this weekend and a costumed bike ride 7 p.m. Tuesday to Irish 31 Pub in Hyde Park with sampling, giveaways and prizes for best costumes and best decorated bikes.