Dance Fighting!

No-holds-barred ballet comes to Straub Park as the Ballet Society presents The Nutcracker Ballet in its sixth annual production of Nutcracker in the Park.

Set on Christmas Eve in the great room of the Stahlbaums' grand house, the ballet sees sweet little Clara receive a life-size nutcracker from her godfather, a skilled clock and toy maker. Her jealous brother Fritz then shows the expert destructiveness of young boys in promptly breaking the nutcracker's arm. Dear Clara falls asleep that night clutching the nutcracker beneath the Christmas tree, and in her dreams, the Nutcracker and his toy soldiers take on the seven-headed Mouse King and his rodent army.

The elegant Renaissance Vinoy Resort and a 40-foot, elaborately decorated Christmas tree in Straub Park provide the perfect backdrop for the production, directed by Sean Musselman.

It's a testament to the beauty of The Nutcracker Ballet that since its first performance by the Kirov Ballet in 1892, it's become a holiday tradition throughout the world. The ballet's popularity is undoubtedly due in part to its lush score by Tchaikovsky, commissioned by legendary choreographer Marius Petipa. Few symphonies are as recognizable as the Nutcracker Overture.

Performances take place at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7. Admission is free for blanket seating and $5 for grandstand seating. Straub Park is located on Beach Drive, adjacent to Vinoy Park on the Bayfront in downtown St. Petersburg. For more info on Nutcracker in the Park, call 727-827-3828.

If what you're looking for is free, family friendly events, there's actually no reason to leave downtown St. Petersburg on Dec. 6.

The St. Petersburg Lions Club holds its 76th annual Santa Parade along Bayshore Drive at 10 a.m., featuring more than 100 high school bands and organizations parading from Fourth Avenue S. to Fifth Avenue N.

Then Snowfest, a winter festival for kids, takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring a snowball target throw, toboggan slide, moon walk, ice skating, pony rides and petting zoo in Straub Park.

The Pier (800 Second Ave. N.E., St. Petersburg, 727-821-6443) offers prime viewing of the annual Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, cruising from Harborage Marina to the Vinoy Yacht Basin and back, beginning at 6:45 p.m.

And Cha Cha Coconuts, on the fifth level of the Pier, has live music from 8 p.m. to midnight.

For more info on the Santa Parade or Snowfest, call 727-893-7441.