TARPON SPRINGS, Fla (WFLA) – The Greek Orthodox community in Tarpon Springs is rejoicing in the 116th Epiphany celebration. Epiphany is a Christian feast day primarily commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist.
The day-long celebration started with church services in the morning followed by a processional from the church down to Spring Bayou where the diving of the cross took place.
An invocation was recited, a white dove, which symbolizes the Holy Spirit, was released over the Bayou, then a white cross was thrown into the water. Dozens of teenagers took the plunge. Then one, Alexander Makris, 16, retrieved the cross. It’s said the person who recovers the cross will have blessings for the whole year.
“This is amazing, a dream come true. I’m still trying to process it.,” said Makris, who explained how he found the cross. “Idove down, and I just saw a glowing little white cross in the water and I just grabbed it and brought it up.”
Sophia Makris is extremely proud of her brother, especially since she helped him train. “It was his first time diving, so I was like coaching him in what to do,” said Sophia Makris. “Because I’ve seen other divers before and I was coaching him what to do and i saw him dive down and he didn’t come up and I knew he was going to get it because that’s what I’ve seen in the past and he just did it and it was amazing. “
Before Thursday’s Epiphany celebration, there was the Blessing of the Fleet on Wednesday. Clergy members bless fishermen and their ships to wish them a safe journey.
The annual tradition draws thousands of people to Tarpon Springs each year, however, last year’s celebration was scaled back and quieter due to the pandemic. This year the celebration is back open for the public to attend.