Good Friday and Easter are typically known as a time for worship, egg hunts and family dinners. This weekend, things will look a little different as folks celebrate the holiest days of the year for Christians. Around the Tampa Bay area, churches, restaurants and neighborhoods have figured out ways to partake in the festivities while maintaining a distance.
Many local restaurants are offering Easter meals to-go, such as 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Bascom’s Chop House and Bahama Breeze, where you can order a holiday bundle for delivery or curbside dropoff.
Churches are turning to interactive online worship, parking lot services and drive-through Easter celebrations instead of welcoming crowds of worshipers this year. Most Tampa Bay-area churches will become mere backdrops for spiritual leaders and small supporting casts as they deploy technology to sustain and inspire largely invisible congregations.
With its “Let’s social distance ... together” theme, First Unity Spiritual Campus in St. Petersburg will hold a private Easter sunrise service and livestream it with a recorded message about the meaning of the resurrection.
In neighborhoods across the Tampa Bay area, you may notice stuffed teddy bears or other animals propped in windows, trees and mailboxes to give kids something to look for on a “bear hunt.” Taking a page from that idea, some neighborhoods are planning to post big, three-foot paper Easter eggs in the window on Saturday night so kids can find them on a walk on Sunday morning.
Others have already added Easter eggs drawn in chalk to sidewalks to make neighborhood walks more interesting, according to the Facebook group Pinellas County’s Wild Animal Safari, which posts neighborhood activities and ideas.
More virtual events
The Tampa Bay Times also has a virtual events calendar at tampabay.com/do that includes a list of virtual Easter activities, including:
Virtual Easter Egg Hunt: People hid eggs in their yard and took pictures. Kids can take their time, zoom in and out, move the camera side to side and see how many eggs they can find from the safety of your home. There’s also an egg hunt themed game to play. For both activities, go to https://sites.google.com/a/csisd.org/easter-fun/home/president-s-day-videos. It is online through Monday.
Socially Distant Easter Bunny: Families can decorate their windows and stand in their yards to wave at the Easter Bunny as he makes his way through Indian Rocks Beach streets in an effort organized by the neighborhood for Indian Rocks Beach residents only. Saturday-Sunday. Indian Rocks Beach streets.
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F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Virtual Dance Party: Special needs families can burn some energy with this virtual dance party via Zoom. Disney or Easter attire encouraged. Join at https://zoom.us/j/288231758. Free. 7-9 p.m. Saturday. (813) 245-2782.
Easter Service: Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon has canceled its plans for an Easter service in its parking lot. Out of an abundance of caution, its service will be offered online only now. “I want to set an example to our community about what it looks like for the church to honor our government leaders and maintain an environment that is as safe as possible for our members and guests,” pastor Corey Abney wrote in an email to the congregation. You can find their schedule of services at bellshoals.com/easter.
Easter Sunday Service: Join First Unity Church St. Petersburg in celebrating a virtual Easter sunrise service live from North Straub Park. Tune in at facebook.com/unitycampus. Free. 6:45-7:45 a.m. Sunday. (727) 527-2222.
Virtual Sunrise Service: Bok Tower Gardens will hold its 94th annual sunrise service on Facebook Live. The service, which normally draws thousands to the historic gardens, will include a message from the Rev. Tim Nunez, Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Wales, and sacred carillon music performed by Geert D’hollander. Go to facebook.com/pg/boktowergardens. 7 a.m. Sunday.
Catholic Easter Sunday Service: The celebration of Easter Mass with Bishop Gregory Parkes of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg will be held at the cathedral and will be broadcast live on Fox Channel 13, 90.5-FM radio and livestreamed at dosp.org/livestream. 10 a.m. Sunday.
Andrea Bocelli: Music for Hope: The Italian tenor and global music icon brings an Easter Sunday concert live from the historic Duomo, the cathedral of Milan. Tune in by clicking here. 1 p.m. Sunday.
Handel’s Messiah: The Florida Orchestra: For Easter, the Florida Orchestra shares love and joy through a performance of the full Messiah in this live recording from December. Tune into WSMR 89.1-FM and 103.9-FM radio or stream online at WSMR.org. 2-4:30 p.m. Sunday.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Virtual Church Service: Lutherans can join St. Paul’s Church in Clearwater for an Easter virtual church service at zoom.us/j/971000153. 7 p.m. Sunday.
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