A year of good luck and blessings. That’s what’s at stake for the over 50 Greek Orthodox teens who dive into the chilly waters of Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs on January 6 every year. Each young man hopes to be the one who retrieves the cross tossed into the water by the Bishop, thus securing a blessing for himself and his church. The crowds – numbering in the tens of thousands – cheer as one youth surfaces triumphantly, cross in hand. And the celebration begins!
The celebration engages the entire community. Local schools and businesses close so that families can join in this annual festival, beginning with a prayer for calm seas, a blessing of the waters, followed by singing, dancing and very fine Greek food. All are welcome, and celebrants come from all over the country and beyond.
For more than 100 years, Epiphany Day has been the most important celebration day in the town of Tarpon Springs. It is a holiday rich in symbolism and beauty, steeped in the traditions of the church as well as the original Greek divers who brought their strong island and maritime heritage to Tarpon Springs.
Tarpon Springs’ Epiphany Day celebration is the largest in the Western hemisphere. And, it’s only in Pinellas.