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Epiphany celebration ends
Clearwater Beach youth retrieves cross
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TARPON SPRINGS - Jack Vasilaros, a 16-year-old from Clearwater Beach, retrieved the cross in the centennial Epiphany celebration at Spring Bayou on Friday.

His All Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, presided over the ceremony in front of a crowd estimated to be over 50,000 people.

Vasilaros received a special blessing by His All Holiness Bartholomew, a gold cross necklace and prestigious trophy.

Fifty-six Greek-American males, ages 16 to 18, competed in the 2006 event.

The Diving for the Cross tradition began in Tarpon Springs as Greeks came to the area to find work in the sponge diving industry. The Diving for the Cross event has grown to be the largest Orthodox Epiphany ceremony in North America and is only overshadowed by the world's largest in Piraeus, the port of Athens, Greece.
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