After living in the Tampa Bay area for almost 20 years, I finally made it to an Epiphany in Tarpon Springs. The Epiphany, which is always celebrated on January 6, has 2 different meanings. One is the celebration of Three Kings Day, when the wise men visited Jesus. The other is the celebration of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river. Tarpon Springs celebrates the baptism of Jesus with young men diving into the bayou for a blessed cross. The one who retrieves the cross from the bottom is considered blessed for the year. This year was the 116th annual event. I got there an hour early and found a good spot along the wall to wait for the event.
Small boats were tied up together around the bayou. The guys will get in the boats before diving into the water for the cross.
There were several manatees in the bayou and it was funny to watch their snouts coming up for air as we waited for the event to start.
Coming from the nearby greek church, the guys all jumped in the water and then climbed into22 the boats. All of them are high school age. I had heard there were 65 guys diving for the cross this year.
Many prayers are said as they bless the cross. Then the Archbishop walks over to the water and casually throws the cross in the water.
Then all you see is splashing as the guys jump in the water.
Seconds later a hand goes up with the cross. He retrieved the cross and will be blessed for the year (it looks like there’s a trophy involved as well).
Some of the attendees were dressed in greek attire.
It was a sunny beautiful morning out and the crowds weren’t too crazy. I had to park pretty far away and had a 20 minute walk to the bayou but I was prepared. I will try and go again next year. And as always when you are near Tarpon Springs, you have to pick up some great greek food and baklava to take home (they even have chocolate covered baklava here!).
I used to live near that neighborhood and attended quite a few ceremonies. Quite the experience!
I have never heard of such a thing but what a great event!!