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5 things to do with kids in Tampa Bay this week: July 19-25

Anime fans welcome the return of Metrocon, kids can tune their basketball skills and back-to-school events are popping up.
Fans at the 2016 Metrocon pose for a photo at the Tampa Convention Center. The convention for anime fans was canceled last year but returns July 23-25.
Fans at the 2016 Metrocon pose for a photo at the Tampa Convention Center. The convention for anime fans was canceled last year but returns July 23-25. [ Times (2016) ]
Published Jul. 19
Updated Jul. 19

1. Metrocon: The state’s largest convention of anime fans is back at the Tampa Convention Center this weekend. After taking last year off, fans of anime, video games, comic books, sci-fi, fantasy and film will gather for games, exhibitions, panels and lots of shopping in the huge merchant mall. There will be meet and greets with voice actors from popular anime films and well-known cosplay artists. Don’t miss the winners of the costume contest Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will be cashless this year, even at the door. Online purchase saves money on ticket prices and also lets you pick up your passes on Thursday night. Single-day tickets are $35-$45, and there are multiday ticket packages available at metroconventions.com/register. Children 6 and younger are free. Hours are 10 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. 333 Franklin St., Tampa.

Anime fans show up in elaborate costumes at Metrocon, like Mindy Swartz as Inky Bendy did in 2019 in Tampa.
Anime fans show up in elaborate costumes at Metrocon, like Mindy Swartz as Inky Bendy did in 2019 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Tampa Bay Times (2019) ]

2. Back-to-School Bash: The first 250 kids in kindergarten through 12th grade get a free backpack at Westfield Brandon mall. There will also be a setup of 40 or 50 local businesses with services that cater to kids and families including after-school programs, health care resources, tutoring, entertainment and government resources. The mascots from the Rays and Lightning will be there, as will circus entertainers. There will also be face painting, giveaways and an interactive scavenger hunt. Registration on Eventbrite required to qualify for a free backpack. Free. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. 459 Brandon Town Center Drive. 727-674-1464.

3. Against the Odds Basketball Clinic: Kids can learn new techniques and elevate their game at this clinic with basketball drill stations, competitive scrimmages, food, drink and free school supplies. Free (donations appreciated). 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Slam! Tampa, 7116 Gunn Highway. 813-501-2149.

Backpack giveaways are a big part of the back-to-school bashes coming this weekend.
Backpack giveaways are a big part of the back-to-school bashes coming this weekend. [ GREG FIGHT | Tampa Bay Times (2007) ]

4. Cruisin’ Back to School: Adults can show off their prized Mustang or other Ford product as their children enjoy games, face painting, music, food and appearances by Tampa Bay Buccaneer players. Free. 4-7 p.m. Friday. Bill Currie Ford, 5815 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. 813-902-3607.

5. Hernando County Back-to-School Bashes: Take advantage of free ways to get ready for school at two Hernando County locations on Saturday. In Spring Hill, the Challenger K-8 School of Science and Math will have free school physicals, dental screenings, immunizations and eye/hearing screenings available on a first-come, first-served basis. Parent or guardian must be present. Free. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at 8403 Balm St. 352-697-3455. And in Brooksville, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is giving away 1,500 free backpacks. Children must be present and accompanied by a parent or guardian. Proof of residency required. Free. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at Nature Coast Technical High School, 4057 California St. 352-797-7088.