5 things you need to know happening in Florida on Thursday, February 27, 2014

TAMPA - Here are five things you need to know happening in Florida on Thursday, February 27, 2014.

(1) Florida Strawberry Festival opens

The 2014 Florida Strawberry Festival opens on Thursday in Plant City.

The 11-day family-friendly festival features carnival rides, midway games, concerts, animals, live entertainment and, of course, strawberries.

The theme of this year's festival is "Florida’s Best Family Recipe!”

New acts this year including Kevin and Martina Keith’s Wild about Monkeys animal exhibition, country-music playing sisters Redhead Express, and daily concerts by Savannah Jack and married duo Kari & Billy.

Groups performing on the Wish Farms Soundstage include Styx (February 27), Little Big Town (March 1), Rascal Flatts (March 2), Kellie Pickler (March 4), Boyz II Men (March 7), and The Band Perry (March 9).

Ticket prices at the gate are $10 for adults and $5 for children 6 to 12. Kids 5 and under are free. Reduced tickets may be purchased in advance at Publix Supermarkets.

For more information, visit www.flstrawberryfestival.com .

(2) Joint Special Operations University Campus groundbreaking

U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) on Thursday.

The 90,000 square-foot building will be used to educate U.S. and international Special Operations personnel. The facility will include 16 classrooms, an auditorium, a research library and rooms for classified briefings.

In 2013 more than 8,200 special operations and international students participate in more than 150 seminars and courses offered by the university. The JSOU is right now working to earn accreditation as a degree-granting university.

For more information, visit jsou.socom.mil .

(3) 2014 Hillsborough County homeless count

The Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative (THHI) will conduct a one-day count on Thursday of homeless people living in Hillsborough County.

Approximately 500 volunteers will be used to complete the count.

The count will be used to sustain funding to much needed services to assist the county's homeless population.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making more funding for homeless programs available based on measured success of a community's efforts in moving people from the streets to permanent housing.

"In order to reduce and end homelessness, we must have excellent data by which to measure the community's success in getting people off the street," said Maria Barcus, CEO of THHI. "This year's count numbers will be used as the baseline going forward."

For more information on the THHI homeless count, visit www.homelessofhc.org .

(4) Florida statewide tornado drill

The Florida Department of Emergency Management will conduct the annual Florida Statewide Tornado Drill at 10:10 a.m. on Thursday.

The test coincides with 2014 Severe Weather Awareness Week.

A Tornado Watch means weather conditions are optimal for the creation of a tornado. A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area or been picked up on radar. During a Tornado Warning you should immediately take shelter in a safe structure.

Today's drill replaces the weekly test normally conducted on Wednesday for Florida NOAA weather radios.

For more information, visit www.floridadisaster.org .

(5) Detroit Tigers spring training game

The Detroit Tigers begin Grapefruit League play at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland on Thursday.

All home games will start at 1:05 p.m. People planning to attend the games should expect traffic delays near Tiger Town on Lakeland Hills Boulevard from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on game days.

The Tigers begin their 17-game spring season by hosting the Atlanta Braves today. Other opponents include the New York Yankees (February 28), St. Louis Cardinals (March 3) and the New York Mets (March 8).

The Tigers finish their Grapefruit League season with a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on March 28.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call (866) 668-4437 or visit detroit.tigers.mlb.com .

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