TAMPA - On Feb. 28, a 2,000-year-old tradition will bestow its light on Tampa Bay for Zoominations, A Chinese Lantern Festival of Lights, at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.
Construction of the festival is well underway by a team of 40 highly-skilled craftsmen and women from the village of Zigong, the birthplace of the Chinese Lantern Festival. The materials and equipment needed to build the artistic masterpieces filled eight semi-trailers.
One of the first structures to take shape is a replica of the Manfeilong Pagoda, also known as the White Pagoda or Bamboo Shoot Pagoda, a nearly 1,000-year-old landmark in the Yunnan Province of China. The original structure reaches a height of 16 meters (60 feet) at its tallest point, and the Zoominations replica will measure a similar height. Craftsmen are assembling the Pagoda from 10,000 pieces of traditional blue and white porcelain - each meticulously applied by hand.
The ancient art of lantern making requires years of study in the trade combined with modern technologies. Individual structures will be assembled into 30 spectacular scenes over 26 acres of the Zoo, representing traditional Chinese themes from nature to folklore and groups of larger-than-life Zoo animals like elephants and rhinos.
CLEARWATER - Clearwater’s Blast Friday returns Friday, Feb. 27, with Blast Friday - Welcome Back Baseball presented by Bright House Networks in the Cleveland Street District starring Grammy nominee jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair.
This baseball themed, family-friendly free street festival begins at 5:30 p.m. and will feature baseball themed vendors with food and merchandise available for purchase.
SEMINOLE - Three quilt guilds have joined together to present the largest quilt show in Pinellas County, Celebrate the Quilt - Explore the Art VIII, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27 and 28, at the Holland G. Mangum Recreational Complex, 9100 113th St. N.
Show hours are Friday, Feb. 27, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The grand opening of the event will feature Saint Andrews Pipes and Drums of Tampa Bay performing outside the facility on Friday at 9:45 a.m.
TARPON SPRINGS - The Tarpon Springs Rotary Club will host the fourth annual Corks, Forks & Crafts Brews Festival at the Historic Train Depot on Feb. 28.
The event will include wine, craft beer, appetizers, desserts and two auctions - a Treasures & Trinkets auction and a silent auction.
The event will run from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Historic Train Depot, 160 E. Tarpon Ave. Tickets are $20 each; all proceeds will support local projects, including Cops ’n Kids and the Tarpon Springs Football Club. Tickets can be purchased from a Tarpon Springs Rotarian or at the door before the event.
ST. PETERSBURG - Literary circles will intersect with other arts and cultural endeavors during the SunLit Festival, a springtime celebration of literature running March 7-15.
Thirteen literary events will be scattered over nine days showcasing St. Petersburg’s literary heritage and the vibrant literary community that flourishes in the city today.
The SunLit Festival will bring together various literary organizations and arts disciplines to celebrate literature, reading and writing. The SunLit Festival is co-produced by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance with a number of program partners. For information, visit facebook.com/SunLitFestival, sunlitfestival.org or stpeteartsalliance.org.
ST. PETERSBURG - Venue Theatre has resurrected the popular Famous Dead Authors troupe for the upcoming SunLit Festival, running March 7-15 in St. Petersburg.
Focusing on literary greats of the past, the Famous Dead Authors was a fixture of the Times Festival of Reading and a favorite at school programs from 1993-2003. Resurrected for the new SunLit Festival’s inaugural year, the Dead Authors will focus on well-known Florida authors - born or adopted. The following authors will be part of the program:
PALM HARBOR - The 12th anniversary Open Your Heart Fashion Show and Luncheon will be Thursday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m., in the Inverness Room, at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club, 36750 U.S. 19 N.
This signature event in support of The Arc Tampa Bay, a new name for UPARC, will feature a uniquely choreographed high-energy fashion show presented by Georgette Diaz of Georgette's Boutique. Audiences will see celebrity models wearing fashions from Georgette's Boutique set to music and a light show. To complete the experience, guests can shop for fashions, shoes and accessories before and after the show and at purchase items made by the individuals served by The Arc Tampa Bay.
The doors open at 10 a.m. to allow guests time to shop, enter the Chinese raffle and enjoy the ambience and libations with friends in Inverness Hall. A gourmet lunch and a 50/50 raffle hosted by The Arc's Hunks will make the day memorable while raising money for a great cause.
Tickets are $80 a person. Tables of 10 may be reserved at $800. Sponsorships beginning at $500 are available.
ST. PETE BEACH - Tickets for the 18th annual Pass-A-Grille Women’s Club Home Tour are now available for purchase online or at select local merchants while supplies last.
This year’s tour is Saturday, Feb. 28, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is a walking tour that includes six Pass-A-Grille homes. Buses will shuttle patrons to and from the free parking lots with stops where patrons may visit the Suntan Art Center, the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum and shopping and dining on historic Eighth Avenue.
GULFPORT - Organizers of Gulfport’s annual Gecko Ball announced results of public voting for the theme of the 2015 Gecko Ball: “Gecko Gras.”
The Seventh Annual Gecko Ball is scheduled on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom. The Gecko Ball is one of a trio of whimsical, celebratory Gecko-themed events in late summer each year, beginning with the Gecko Pub Crawl, and ending with Gecko Fest, Gulfport’s largest annual free street festival held on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
All events are sponsored by the Gulfport Merchants Association and a portion of proceeds from events are dedicated each year to community charities and public art projects. Other 2015 themes up for consideration during online public voting were “Gecko Grease,” “Rocky Horror Gecko Show,” and “Cirque de Gecko.”
“Gecko Gras” will celebrate Mardi Gras, including its festivities and pageantry, high energy dancing, New Orleans-style music, food and more. Expect to experience over-the-top revelry and a multitude of costumes, including outrageous headdresses, glitter, a rainbow of make-up, wigs, feathers, masks, beads and baubles, kings and queens, clowns, jesters, geckos and a host of other fantasy-inspired creatures. The Casino Ballroom will be transformed with a kaleidoscope of colorful décor.
MADEIRA BEACH - Farmers markets seem to be popping up everywhere, which many embrace for their environmentally friendly nature as well as being good for the local economy.
All over Pinellas there are markets, though many of them close for the summer. Ask those who run them how they are good for the environment and local economy and you will get a bouquet of answers. In Madeira Beach, Laura Garrison, who operates the mid-week Madeira Beach morning market, says the green nature is highlighted in the work of the vendors, many of whom are artists.
“We’re hands on,” she said. “The growers and the artisans craft and create things from local sources. From seeds and recycled material. That is environmentally friendly.”
Garrison says it all adds up, to her, as being better.