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Things to do in the Charlotte area for $5 or less

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BBBS FAMILY REUNION CELEBRATION This cheap thrill includes the magic word "free." With food served in a picnic setting, local celebrity appearances, the Arby's Charity tour bus and music provided by WRFX 99.7 to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte, it's the perfect weekend event for the frugal family. It takes place Saturday, May 20 in Bank of America Stadium's South Lawn Village, starting at 11am. For reservations call 704-377-3963 or e-mail njohnson@bbbscharlotte.org.

Shakespeare at The Green It's Shakespeare in the Park, except on the Green. Collaborative Arts presents William Shakespeare's endearing classic, A Midsummer Night's Dream, May 11-21, 2006 at the Green Uptown, 435 S. Tryon Street. Performances are Thursday through Saturday nights at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3pm. Admission is free. Youth Shakespearean performance workshops will be offered Saturdays at 11am and Sundays at 5pm. For more information please visit www.collaborativeartstheatre.com or call 704-625-1288.

MIYAZAKI IN MAY The brilliant Japanese director behind such great animated fare as Princess Mononoke and Kiki's Delivery Service is honored with showings of his work at the Main Library, 310 N. Tryon St., throughout the month of May. May 21: Porco Rosso; May 28: Spirited Away (Oscar winner). Both films are showing at 2pm in the auditorium. Absolutely free. Go to www.plcmc.org or call 704-336-6214 for details.

MOVIES IN THE PARK Not quite Breakfast at Tiffany's in Central Park, but still a great local substitution. This free event for the whole family is sponsored by Watershed in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department. Movies begin at dusk at the Amphitheater in Freedom Park, 1900 East Blvd., with free popcorn and drawings. Bring your own blanket or chairs the second Friday of each month: June 9, July 14 and August 11. Info at www.watershedcharlotte.com.

LEARN TO MEDITATE Take it from loyal practitioners of meditation: There's nothing like it to take the stress of your day off your shoulders. That's why the Pain & Rehab Institute is offering a free class in the breathing techniques and imagery used in ancient qi gong meditation (betcha didn't know there was more than one kind). The office is located at 128 E. Plaza Drive in Mooresville. Classes are Thursdays at 7:30pm. Call 704-649-1629 to get started on the path to serenity.

MUSIC & MOVIES AT THE MINT The Young Affiliates of the Mint Museum present a Night with Oscar on the Mint's front lawn. Music is provided by the Mike Strauss Band. May 21: A Fish Called Wanda. Admission is $3 (members), $4 (non-members). The Mint Museum of Art is located at 2730 Randolph Road. For directions or details call 704-337-2000 or go to www.youngaffiliates.org.

GOSPEL ON THE LAWN The law firm of Homesley, Goodman & Wingo will host its fourth annual Gospel on the Lawn series in front of its Mooresville firm in the Issac Harris House, 330 S. Main St. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. All concerts are at 7:30pm. May 19: Harvest Wing Band; June 9: Joyful Hearts. Call 704-664-2162.

SALSA NIGHTS Be Shakira for a night and prove that your "Hips Don't Lie" at the free Latin-style dance lessons offered at the Loft, 1526 Elizabeth Ave. Learn salsa, merengue, bachata and more. Touting "celebrity instructors," this joint gets hips swiveling every Wednesday night at 8pm. Hit www.hispanos-usa.com or call 704-333-5898.

SPORTS CONNECTION The ultimate cheap thrill is, of course, sports! Among the conventional sports offered at this complex are unconventional (and cheap) games like laser tag and skating. For $5, future Tony Hawks can skate all day -- and Star Wars fans can play laser tag. Go online www.SportsConnectionNC.com or call 704-583-1444.

HEM 2ND ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION Come out and meet Pam Stone of 107.9 the Link's "Pam Stone Show" and professional trainer David Crocker. The place to answer all those questions on whipping your bod into peak summer show-and-tell condition is Home Economist Market, 2707 South Blvd. Also included are a free group training session and 15-minute biofeedback readings. Be there on Saturday, May 20 from 11am-3pm. For more details, call 704-522-8123.

Free!

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