TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. (WFLA) – Despite some COVID-19 restrictions, the 115th Epiphany celebration was a success Wednesday in Tarpon Springs.
The celebration is where young men dive for a cross thrown by an archbishop, and whoever retrieves the cross is said to have good luck all year.
The boy who retrieved the cross Wednesday morning found it in less than a minute.
Sixteen-year-old Colten Sakadales found the cross in less than a minute.
Sakadales is on the swim team at Tarpon Springs High School.
They’re calling it a family tradition and a blessing from God as Sakadales is the brother of Hunter who retrieved the cross last year.
Colten and Hunter are the only two young men in the family that lives in Tarpon Springs. They have a 9-year-old sister, Isabella.
The proud parents, Julie and Thomas Sakadales, said they joked this whole past year that Colten would retrieve the cross but knew the chances were low, they said they feel extremely blessed.
The family said they will likely go to a local restaurant to celebrate.
The Greek Orthodox tradition usually draws thousands of people but this year was quieter due to coronavirus.
Spectators were encouraged to stay home and watch online, and a smaller number of boys dove for the cross.
The ceremonial church service was kept to half its normal size at 250 people.
News Channel 8 was told when the boys dive, they are allowed to take their mask off but will be given a new one when they dry off.
Parents with sons participating say the chance to dive for the cross is a great honor for their family, parish and the Greek community.
“It is such a blessing to see this. We’ve lived here 20 years, seen this at least 10 times and now we get to see our son participate,” said Frank Armstrong. “We feel so blessed, he represents our church, Holy Trinity in Clearwater, all these boys rep their parish, but it’s really the Greek Community here in Tampa Bay is so special.”
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