Tarpon Springs basked in its 117th annual Epiphany celebration, a richly choreographed religious and cultural event that brought thousands of visitors to the Florida city.
Tarpon Springs hosts the largest Epiphany celebration in the western hemisphere.
Following the Divine Liturgy and Great Blessing of the waters, Archbishop Elpidophoros, hierarchs, clergy, dignitaries, and young men and women proceeded to Tarpon Springs’ Spring Bayou.
The Archbishop cast a white cross into the water and dozens of young men dove for the cross, each seeking the honor of retrieving it.
VIDEO: The cross has been retrieved at the yearly Tarpon Springs community celebration of Epiphany. The young man who retrieved it – and the yearlong blessing that it’s said comes with it – was identified as George Stamas, 16. https://t.co/Wiji8spQmG pic.twitter.com/cZtYlSxVz9
— Spectrum Bay News 9 (@BN9) January 6, 2023
There, an invocation was recited and a white dove was released, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, to fly over the Bayou.
Earlier, 9-year-old Emmanouela Kavouklis delivered flowers to Archibishp Elpidophoros.
Emmanouela Kavouklis, 9, dressed in traditional Greek garb, delivers flowers to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros. Kavouklis said she was excited for the honor, especially since her older sister has delivered flowers to the Archbishop in a past epiphany. pic.twitter.com/u7Edw9JMvC
— Michaela Mulligan (@Michaela_Mull) January 6, 2023
Epiphany at Tarpon Springs
The picturesque town has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US. Many of them still work for the sponge industry which was started by their Greek ancestors.
Chris Alahouzos is the town’s proud mayor. Alahouzos and his family emigrated to the United States from the Greek island of Kalymnos when he was 14. His father was a sponge diver.
Tarpon Springs previously fostered sister city relationships with a number of Greek cities, most recently Hydra.
The two cities signed a sister city agreement in Hydra in September 2021 as a way to mark their historic connections and foster the growth of cultural and economic development between the two.
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