13 things to do on the 13th

For superstitious folks, Friday the 13th has become somewhat of a bad omen. Due to myth and tradition, some people consider it to be far more than just another day on the calendar, but one of foreboding and ill-fated events. Some people cautiously wait for this unlucky day.

Tampa Bay and the surrounding area present an array of fun and exciting opportunities to take the reins of this inauspicious date and transform it into something memorable. Here are 13 ways to whittle away the hours this Friday the 13th:

• Hollywood is known for releasing a potential horror blockbuster on Friday the 13th, and this year is no exception. Sony Pictures’ The Grudge 2 – starring Amber Tamblyn and Sarah Michelle Gellar, the star of 2004’s The Grudge – opens just in time to capitalize on the excitement. However, if students crave vintage terror instead, they can check out the bevy of horror classics available on DVD, including The Exorcist, A Nightmare on Elm Street and (of course) Friday the 13th.

• Those interested in celebrating Halloween a bit early could always visit Busch Gardens for the traditional creep-fest known as Howl-O-Scream, a local favorite. As always, the event promises a number of fright-filled haunted houses, “scare zones” and other horrific happenings.

• Another alternative for a nighttime scare is Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando. This year, the immensely popular event celebrates its “Sweet 16” with the return of many signature characters, such as Jack the Clown and the Storyteller. In addition to the traditional haunted houses and scary shows, this year marks the return of Robosaurus, the robotic dinosaur that rampages the park’s streets.

• For those who possess a more artistic sensibility, Venue Theatre in Pinellas Park is running a controversial new play called Extremities by William Mastrosimone. Presented by the Stray Dogs Theatre Company, this unique play concerns the revenge plot of an intended rape victim and is certain to keep audiences engaged with its unsettling charm. Performances of this play are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

• Another option for those with a penchant for the theatrical is The Pillowman. Now playing at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, this intriguing tale addresses the interrogation of a fiction writer whose stories appear to be coming to life when horrific real-life events mirror his work. Tickets to this drama/comedy cost $19.50. The play runs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.

• In addition, Graphicstudio’s Benefit Sale is running from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. This annual event, which takes place at Graphicstudio on Spectrum Boulevard, provides a rare opportunity to purchase masterpieces from some of today’s most celebrated artists. Hundreds of pieces will be available at reasonably low prices. Meanwhile, the William and Nancy Oliver Gallery at the College of Visual and Performing Arts is holding a closing reception for the Adam Kitzerow Art Exhibit, which is free to the public and runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• All the party people can visit Czar Vodka Bar in Ybor as it presents Dirty But Sophisticated, a fashion and art extravaganza starting at 9 p.m. With a ticket price of $13, this event includes live music from a number of electrifying bands, including Locos Por Juana and the Gwanheads. Also for music lovers, the Phyllis P. Marshall Center’s weekly Basement Band Series presents two solid hours of music from Charlie Hotel starting at 9 p.m. in the MC Underground.

• For a more old-school party, visit Gulfport Casino’s Swing Time! 6th Anniversary Celebration. For a mere $12, you receive a group swing dance lesson, as well as admission to the subsequent festivities, including live music from The Venturas, a cash bar and a prize-filled night of contests and giveaways.

• More subdued fun will ensue at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa as the Florida Orchestra performs a free concert. Starting at 7 p.m., the 80-piece orchestra will perform selections from a number of famous composers, including John Williams’ selections from films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Star Wars saga.

• If all else fails, head to your local bookstore and grab a copy of the final installment of the phenomenally popular A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket (a.k.a. Daniel Handler), aptly titled The End. Because the series chronicles the adventures of the unlucky Baudelaire orphans, each book in the 13-part series possesses 13 chapters, and is fittingly released today.