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Top things to do in Tampa Bay this week: Dec. 19-25

UCF and Marshall face off in the Gasparilla Bowl and in beach games, plus Hanukkah begins with fun and games.
Members of Congregation B'nai Israel of St. Petersburg celebrate lighting St. Petersburg's largest menorah on the first evening of Hanukkah in 2017. [Tampa Bay Times (2017)]


College bowl season is starting up, and one of the first is the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, aired on ESPN. The University of Central Florida will take on the Marshall Thundering Herd, the reigning Gasparilla Bowl champs after defeating the University of South Florida Bulls last year 38-20. But first there’s the Gasparilla Bowl Battle of the Beach. The bands and the football teams will march through downtown Treasure Island toward the beach to compete against one another in a bellyflop competition and a music battle starting at 1 p.m. Saturday behind the Bilmar Beach Resort, 10650 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. The game is at 2:30 p.m. Monday at Raymond James Stadium. $25-$85. 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa.


For the first night of Hanukkah there will be family-style festivals with free doughnuts and latkes in downtown Tampa at City Hall Plaza and in St. Petersburg’s Straub Park. And at Winthrop Town Center in Riverview, see a giant clothes menorah while kids build their own gelt launchers and battle it out to see who’s the gelt launcher champion. All of the celebrations start at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Bring the family for free ice skating during Hanukkah on Ice at Westfield Countryside Mall. There will be music, crafts, balloons, chocolate gelt and hot latkes before and after the lighting of the grand Baby Shark menorah. 5:30 p.m. Sunday. 27001 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater.

For the second night of Hanukkah, the Mega Hanukkah Celebration on Clearwater Beach is on the Beach Walk in front of the Surf Style Mega Store. See the lighting of a surprise edible menorah and enjoy hot latkes, doughnuts, dreidels, a Hanukkah prize wheel, the Clearwater Fire Department’s Gelt Drop and “The Amazing Moogician.” Free parking in the Surf Style lot starting at 4 p.m. Monday. 315 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater.

And Vodka Latke, a party for the 20- to 40-something crowd always held on Christmas Eve, is back. This year the party, also known as the Matzoh Ball, includes heavy appetizers, gourmet latkes, desserts, cash bar and music by DJ Makmade at Tampa’s New York Kitchen and Lounge. $25-$45. 9 p.m. Tuesday. 4606 W Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa.


Florida Cracker Christmas With the Bellamy Brothers is a hometown show for the Pasco County natives and country superstars. It is also a benefit for Operation Heart F.E.L.T. (Feeding Empty Little Tummies). The show will also feature country singer Lance Carpenter. Bring a lawn chair. No coolers or pets allowed. $10. 6 p.m. Saturday. Florida Cracker Kitchen, 966 E Jefferson St., Brooksville. (352) 754-8787.

Howard Bellamy, left, and David Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers visit under an oak tree in Darby in 2018. [DOUGLAS CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times (2018)]