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    3 weekends pack in music, sports, crafts

    By EILEEN SCHULTE

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 19, 2001


    For many tourists and locals, spring is synonymous with the 48th annual Fun 'n Sun Festival. It begins Friday and runs through May 6 and features 37 outdoor and indoor activities for people of all ages and tastes.

    It couldn't be more varied. There's gospel, country, rock, bluegrass and Irish music concerts, an aviation festival, a fishing tournament, senior follies, a beach stroll, a craft fair, a play, a children's Olympic event, a fish fry, a "brunch with the birds," and, of course, the Illuminated Night Parade.

    "There's an awful lot of music," said Terry Schmidt, an event producer for the Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department who helped organize the event. "People like the outdoor concerts."

    The event was begun by the chamber of commerce to lure tourists from the North, but now it's produced by the city of Clearwater for everybody.

    Organizers have made an effort to offer diverse entertainment, most of it free of charge. So if you're looking for something to do over the next three weekends, you may want to look no farther than Clearwater.

    For more information about any Fun 'n Sun event, call (727) 562-4801. The kickoff Fun 'n Sun event will be a concert at 8 p.m. Friday at Coachman Park. The Florida Orchestra will play during the "Paint the Park Pink" breast cancer awareness event. Besides music, the event will feature exhibits, games, displays and information booths (booths open at 6 p.m.). Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Free.

    On Friday and Saturday, in the Gulf of Mexico off Clearwater Beach, expert sportsmen and women will participate in the Grand Ole Opry Sportfishing King Mackerel Tournament, an officially sanctioned Division 6 SKA fishing tournament with a grand prize of $100,000. Admission is $425. For information, call (727) 375-8862.

    From 2:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, local music performers, games, "make and take" crafts and a moonwalk will be offered at the North Greenwood Community Music Festival at Phillip Jones Field, 1190 Russell St., Clearwater. It's free. Food and drinks will be available.

    Like to fly? Enjoy a display of aircraft, including ultralights and vintage planes, at the Clearwater Air Park Open House/Aviation Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Clearwater Air Park, 1000 Hercules Ave. N, Clearwater. The Anheuser Busch Skydiving team will make three jumps, there will be a hot air balloon, children's activities and a K-9 demonstration. It's free.

    A free children's fishing contest called the Grand Ole Opry Pier 60 Youth Fishing Tournament will be from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Pier 60, Clearwater Beach. The tournament is open to children 16 and younger. Prizes will be awarded. It's free, but contestants must provide their own equipment. Bait and snacks will be available for purchase. On-site registration will begin at 7:30 a.m.

    Just about every genre of music is represented at the festival, including country music. The Grand Ole Opry Concert at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Coachman Park will feature artists Ray Pillow, Daryl Pillow and the group Exile. It's free, and concessions will be available.

    Lots of Fun 'n Sun events on the schedule are events held regularly, including Sunsets at Pier 60. From 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, local entertainers and crafts artists will entertain. On Friday, Dan McMillian & His Big Band will play; Saturday, Retroactive (1980s dance music) will entertain; Sunday, Mandalay (classic rock) will take the stage. Free.

    Do you have good aim? If so, you may want to check out the 11th annual 72-hole format Disk Golf Tournament to be held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at two parks: Cliff Stephens Park, 801 Fairwood Ave., and Northeast Coachman Park, corner of Old Coachman Road and Northeast Coachman Road. There are divisions for pros, masters, recreational amateurs (Am II), women and juniors. Entrance fees are $25 for pros, $10 for amateurs (there will be a $2 day-of-event fee). Spectators are free.

    Get a taste of the Emerald Isle by attending the Irish for a Day concert from 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Coachman Park, featuring fiddle player James Kelly, and Pooka and the Titanic Dancers. It's free. Irish food and drinks will be available.

    Enjoy tales of the swamps Monday, during story times Monday through April 26 courtesy of the Clearwater Public Library System at: 10:30 a.m. Monday at North Greenwood Library, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the main Clearwater library, 7 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Wednesday at the East Library and 10 a.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. April 26 at the Countryside location. Free.

    Play cards? Bring your partners to the Fun 'n Sun Bridge Tournament from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at Morningside Recreation Center, 2400 Harn Blvd. Admission is $2.75. Awards will be handed out.

    The 10th annual Senior Follies featuring performers 55 years old and older will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Royalty Theatre, 405 Cleveland St. Admission is $3.

    Search for shining alligator eyes, fireflies and other creatures of the night at the Moonlight Meanderings Night Walk & Campfire at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Moccasin Lake Nature Park, 2750 Park Trail Lane. After the hike, gather around an old-fashioned campfire for a sing-along and treats. Admission is $2.

    The Paul Spagnuolo Trio will provide the cha-cha, tango and waltz music for the Ballroom Dance from 8:15 to 10:30 p.m. April 26 at Clearwater Beach Recreation Center. Admission is $2.50.

    Next to the night parade, one of the most well-attended Fun 'n Sun events may be the "Let It Be Downtown" Broadway-style concert and classic car showcase from 5 to 9 p.m. April 26 on Cleveland Street between Myrtle Avenue and Fort Harrison Avenue. It features the cast of the Broadway show Beatlemania. It will also feature the Sevilles. It's free, and concessions will be available.

    Flowering trees and shrubs will be the stars of the Clearwater Garden Club's Horticulture "Grow and Share" from 10 a.m. to noon April 27 at 405 Seminole St. Guest speaker Phyllis King will talk about African violets, and club members will share cuttings. Free.

    Want to catch a rising star? Then catch the Carol Ann Campbell Variety Show at 7:30 p.m. April 27 at the Royalty Theatre, 405 Cleveland St. Admission ranges from $5 to $15.

    D' Krew, and the Landsharks (6 to 11 p.m. April 27), Latin Express, The Latino Projekt Orquesta Infinidad, Tito Puento Jr. (3 to 11 p.m. April 28) and Grin, Ambush, Deja and Spy vs. Spy (2 to 10 p.m. April 29) will be the featured acts at the Sunsets Beach Fest Island Music Celebration at Pier 60 Park, Clearwater Beach. You'll enjoy Caribbean food and local artists. Free.

    Walk with grieving families during the Hospice Beach Stroll at 8 a.m. April 28 at Palm Pavilion, 18 Bay Esplanade (registration is at 7 a.m. at Sand Key Park, 1060 Gulf Blvd. with shuttle service provided). Admission is $15 and includes a T-shirt.

    The Fun 'n Sun Jamboree, a family day of gospel and bluegrass, will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 28 at Coachman Park. On the lineup are participants from youth programs, drama programs, bands, praise and worship bands and outreach teams. It's free, and concessions will be available.

    Children can enjoy crafts, face painting, clowns and pony rides, while the adults watch local performing groups at the Springfest Craftfaire from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 28 and April 29 at Crest Lake Park, Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, near Highland Avenue. It's free, but parking will cost you $1.

    A variety hairstyling and variety fashion show will be at 7:30 p.m. April 29 at the Royalty Theatre, 405 Cleveland St. Admission ranges from $10 to $20. Proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.

    Enjoy big band tunes courtesy of the Abe Guard Orchestra from 6 to 8 p.m. April 29 at Coachman Park. It's free, and concessions will be available.

    It will be the Clearwater Phillies vs. the Fort Myers Miracle during the Fun 'n Sun "Baseball Night" With the Phillies at 7 p.m. April 30 at Jack Russell Stadium, 801 Phillies Drive. Free tickets are available at local businesses, the Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department and all Fun 'n Sun events. The first 500 people through the gate will receive a souvenir.

    Like beach stories? Attend Seashore Story Time April 30 through May 3 at various Clearwater public libraries. Here's the where and when info: 10:30 a.m. April 30 at North Greenwood Library; 10:30 a.m. May 1 at the main library; 7 p.m. May 1 and 10 a.m. May 2 at the East Library; and 10 a.m. May 2 and 10 a.m. May 3 at Countryside Library. Free.

    You can see a comedy, The Curious Savage, by John Patrick at 7:30 p.m. May 3 and May 4 at the Clearwater High School auditorium, 540 S Hercules Ave. Tickets are $5 at the door.

    A mini-Olympics for children ages 3-5, the Little People Olympiad features an opening ceremony, 25-meter run, standing long jump, bean bag toss and other sports from 9:30 a.m. to noon May 4 at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex, 2450 Drew St. It's free. Registration begins at 9 a.m.

    A variety of music will blast from Pier 60 during the Sunsets at Pier 60 end-of-the-day festival. From 6 to 9 p.m. May 4, the Jim Griswold Band (R&B) will play; from 6 to 9 p.m. May 5, Molten Mike (blues) will entertain; from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, May 6, Josh & the Older Generation (rock) will take the stage. Free.

    If table tennis is your game, attend the eighth annual Table Tennis Tournament, featuring divisions for men, women, juniors, singles and mixed doubles from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. May 5 at the Long Center, 1501 N Belcher Road, Clearwater. Spectators are free, but adult players will pay $7.50, and juniors will pay $3.75 (those with participant cards will get a discount).

    Help make repairs on the historic Plumb House by attending the Clearwater Historical Society Fish Fry from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 5 at Clearwater High School, 540 N Hercules Ave. Admission is $6 per person.

    Horseshoe playing isn't a lost art. Just ask members of the Clearwater Horseshoe Club, which will sponsor a tournament from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 5 at Ed Wright Park, 1425 S Greenwood Ave. Free. Concession available.

    Guides will help you discover and identify birds during a hike at 8 a.m. May 5 at Moccasin Lake Nature Park, 2750 Park Trail Lane. Admission is $2. A continental breakfast will be served.

    Before the Fun 'n Sun Illuminated Night Parade, a concert featuring Salsa Calienta (Latin music) will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. May 5 at Station Square Park, 620 Cleveland St. It's free, and concessions will be available.

    The highlight of the Fun 'n Sun Festival is the annual Illuminated Night Parade filled with colorful floats, clowns and bands. It will start at 7:35 p.m. May 5 at Crest Lake Park, and wind its way west along Cleveland Street before ending at Osceola Avenue near Harborview Center.

    After the parade, enjoy a wrap-up party and concert featuring La Energia (Latin music) from 9 to 11 p.m. May 5 at Coachman Park. Free.

    About 150 Tampa Bay area businesses are expected to participate in the America II Corporate Sportsfest Games from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 5 at Clearwater Beach, south of Pier 60.

    Teams will compete in such events as beach volleyball, surf and turf relays, tube dashes and tugs of war. There will also be a Pro-Sports Interactive Challenge hosted by the Devil Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Mutiny. Spectators are free, but corporate teams will start at $400.

    You'll get an opportunity to learn about flowers and even buy a plant for someone special on Mother's Day at the Garden Club Plant Sale from 10 a.m. to noon May 5 at 405 Seminole St. Free.

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