1. Things to Do

Free and cheap things to do with the kids

Published Jan. 26, 2012

kumquat.jpegThere's some great family-friendly diversions to choose from this week if you want to avoid the crowds of Gasparilla, from the folksy Kumquat Festival to free movies on the beach to a park filled with all manner of trucks and even a tank for kids to climb on. Read on for more:

It's shark mania at this week's free Sunset Cinema at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. Bring blankets, low lawn chairs or towels to plop on Clearwater Beach and watch free movies. Friday features the PG-rated film Shark Tale with the voice of Will Smith and Saturday features the PG-rated film about a shark attack victim, Soul Surfer. Concessions for sale. No alcohol. Free. Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach. (727) 434-6060. Shows start around dusk.

Don't be intimidated by the crowds at Gasparilla. Read our insider's tips here on managing the day and helping you kids score lots of beads.

The Let's Draw Underwater Exhibit will have a festive grand opening party at 7 p.m. Friday for this unusual art exhibit by 21-year-old multimedia gonzo artist Hunter Payne. It features hundreds of drawings he created underwater, as well as a documentary of his adventures in the Florida Keys. Friday's event will include, according to Payne: "Free admission, chocolate milk, a lot of weird art, the very first look at the documentary and other awesome secret things that would be anticlimactic if I gave them away." Free, reservations suggested, (727) 895-6620. Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Exhibit runs through Feb. 18.

Consider the folksy Kumquat Festival the anti-Gasparilla. You'll find all things devoted to the quirky little fruit — pies, cookies, ice cream, jellies — plus arts and crafts, a car show, farmers market and kids' activities. Quaint. Charming. Not a drunken pirate in site. It's all in downtown Dade City from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. To get ready here are 3 ways to look like you know what a kumquat is:

truck.jpgAt Touch-a-Truck and Florida Clown Day there will be fire trucks, school buses, police cars, motorcycles and even a tank at this annual kids day in Largo Central Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. If kids purchase a $5 wristband they will have access to an inflatable jump house area as well as a ride in the Rocketship Car. A free shuttle will run from the lot at Largo High, 410 Missouri Ave., to the event. To park and walk, the Largo Middle parking lot at 155 Eighth Ave. SE, will also be open. For info, call (727) 587-6740, ext. 5014.

The UniverSoul Circus is in town this weekend. The African-American touring circus with ethnic performers from around the world, high-energy, high-tech special effects and music of African-American, Caribbean, African and South American cultures. Acts include clowns, aerial ballet, motorcycle daredevils, hip-hop dancing, acrobats, bicycle daredevils, illusionists, dogs, tigers, elephants, high wire, Caribbean dancers and much more. This event takes place in the stadium's parking lot. $15-$28. Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (800) 316-7439. 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, noon, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday.

For Blast Friday, Jacksonville sons Molly Hatchet will be performing at this free street party in downtown Clearwater. The family-friendly block party will also have vendors, food, family activities and contests starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday at 433 Cleveland St. in Clearwater.
4Pet Tail Gate Party: Like a doggie Olympics, bring your pet for dog relays, canine agility tests, live music, a fire pit with s'mores roasting, Frisbee toss, "waterworks" and the break-an-egg run. Free admission, $1 per activity. It's 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave. N, Largo.

A new $10 ticket price for children 12 and under is available for Gaspar: A Pirate Fantasy, the swashbuckling ballet on stage Sunday at Tampa's Straz Center for the Performing Arts. A KidsFest taking place in conjunction with the show will offer a magician, face painting, pirates, art/coloring centers and a visit with ballet dancers from Gaspar Ballet, one hour after the show in the lobby of Ferguson Hall.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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