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Cheap Thrills

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FINS AND FUN: Get a big taste of marine life in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, when the Tucson Children's Museum hosts a 100-foot, 3-D blue whale replica. Kids and their grown-ups are invited to wander through the pseudo beast, and then stick around for slush action provided by eegee's, and the ever-popular, quite refreshing ice blocking.

The party runs from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 4, in the Tucson Children's Museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave. Admission is $5.50, $4.50 for seniors, $3.50 for children. For information, call 792-9985.

WADS O' FUN: The Wingspan center erupts with a performance by Sister Spit's Ramblin' Road Show.

Billed as a "band of lady poets, performance artists, prophets and perverts," these gals have made a name for themselves by tearing across the country in a beat-up van to incite bar brawls, hurl word grenades -- and leave audiences gasping for more.

Sister Spit started in San Francisco as a weekly open-mic event, where girls of all genders were free to deluge the crowd with talent ranging from poems and stories to naked cello playing, puppets and chainsaws.

In 1977, they took their gig on the road, for appearances The Nation calls "meandering and remarkable, like a party or an auto accident."

Show time is 8 p.m. July 5, in Wingspan, 300 E. Sixth St. Tickets are $5, and available at Wingspan. For details, call 624-1779.

SEASONAL RACKET. The Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club continues its seasonal habit of hosting wonderful, old-fashioned Friday evening family barbecues throughout the summer. Bring a beach blanket, your appetite, and everyone from granny to the rugrats for these relaxing outings, complete with live entertainment, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free.

And don't miss the club's annual Fourth of July party, considered the granddaddy of local independence-minded extravaganzas. The celebration shifts gears this year, with more focus on family events, including games, races, swimming, and plenty of entertainment. The party runs from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 4, at the Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club, 4001 N. Country Club Road. Admission is $6, $3 for children ages 12 and over. Parking is limited, and shuttle service will be available. For information, call 795-6960.

UNCHAINED MELODY: The singers of Art Express liberate their vocal chords for Let Freedom Sing!, a concert "in recognition of America, its veterans and the continued hope for world peace."

More than 143 singers will take the stage for this spectacle, with musical guests including the Davis Monthan Honor Guard, vocalist Armen Dirtadian, the Tucson Concert Band and the National Norms Men's Quartet.

The singing begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 3, in the TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. Call 296-2106 for details.

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