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GOT A BOAT? JOIN THE SANTA CRUISE PARADE

The South Shore Anglers and Boating Club invites owners of pontoons or small motorboats to join the inaugural Apollo Beach Santa Cruise.

The boat parade starts at noon Dec. 17 and will follow the canals south of Apollo Beach Boulevard.

The club holds casual dinner meetings every third Wednesday except December and welcomes new members. Boat parade participants should meet in the Bal Harbor lagoon near the tiki bar. Call 641-2799.

BRANDON

Former NBA player launching new middle school league

He's played with Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Now, Jim Price wants to teach young people how to play basketball. Registration for a middle school league through Pyramid Sports has begun.

The league will begin Jan. 6 with a clinic for all players.

Games will be held on Saturdays through March 3 at the Brandon Boys & Girls Club, 213 Ninth Ave. N. Price said he wants to field eight teams of 10 players.

Price, who played guard, ended his seven-year NBA career in 1979.

He averaged 10 points a game with the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Buffalo Braves, Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons, and made the 1975 All-Star team.

Since leaving the NBA, Price, 57, has coached at Butler University and Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis, and in the U.S. and World basketball associations.

Registration costs $75 and is open to middle school students. Players can register at the Boys & Girls Club weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m.

Any middle school student can try out for the league, Price said.

"If the girls want to come in and compete against the boys, I'll leave that open," he said. Call 217-3220.

County Animal Services seeks items for Animal Angel Tree

Hillsborough County Animal Services is accepting donations for its animal residents. The first Animal Angel Tree will decorate the lobby at 440 N Falkenburg Road, decorated with ornaments made by local children.

The shelter needs treats, biscuits and chew toys, scratching devices for cats, towels and small blankets, plastic bowls, gentle shampoos and animal crates, among other items. The shelter is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 744-5660.

LITHIA

Fine Arts Winter Festival set for tonight at Newsome High

Newsome High School students will perform tonight in an artistic holiday celebration. The Fine Arts Winter Festival includes the band, chorus and orchestra.

Drama department members will contribute performances, and student art work will hang in the lobby.

The event starts at 7 p.m. today at the school, 16550 FishHawk Blvd. It is free and open to the public.

The Tri-M Music Honor Society will collect donations of canned foods to help local food banks. Call 767-9766.

VALRICO

10 Bloomingdale students are National Merit semifinalists

Ten Bloomingdale High School students have been named semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. The program selects winners from high school juniors who have taken the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Steven Buck, Melissa Chudow, Matthew Ealy, Chelsae Johansen, Stephen Lue, Emily Rankin, Patrick Stauffer, Brant Wayson, Kelley Williams and Clifford Wilson may now apply for status as finalists in the 2007 program. National Merit winners can earn up to $2,500, plus corporate or college-sponsored awards.

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