Vassilios Harding, 16, a junior at Tarpon Springs High School, grabs the cross Jan. 6 during the Greek Orthodox Church’s 107th Epiphany celebration at Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs.
TARPON SPRINGS – Thousands flocked to the city of Tarpon Springs for the 2013 Epiphany Celebration Sunday, Jan. 6, in Tarpon Springs.
The 107th celebration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ by St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan began with services at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, followed by the blessing of the waters and the traditional procession to Spring Bayou where this year’s Dove Bearer, Evelyn Bilirakis, 15, released a white dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Americas, then cast the white cross into the waters of Spring Bayou and 46 young men dove for the honor of retrieving it.
Vassilios Harding, 16, a junior at Tarpon Springs High School came up with the cross this year. According to church tradition, the winner is blessed with one year of good luck.
A number of events preceded Sunday’s activities, including the annual blessing of the fleet and the Epiphany Celebration Dance on Saturday night. The celebration ended with an Epiphany Glendi (festival) with food, drink, live music and dancing at St. Nicholas Community Center.