A second cross had to be thrown into the waters of Spring Bayou today after the first one was lost during this city’s 106th annual Epiphany cross dive.
Louis Mailisand, 17, a senior at Tarpon Springs High School, surfaced with the second cross moments after it was tossed. According to tradition, the boy who retrieves the cross receives a year of blessings.
Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church in America tossed the first cross near the platform at picturesque Spring Bayou at around 1 p.m. The 61 boys swam toward it, but were unable to find it after searching for long minutes in the chilly, murky water.
The archbishop sent the boys back to their dinghies, then tossed a second white cross.
Crowds cheered as Mailisand emerged from the waters with the cross in his hand. His mother, Linda, was shaking as she was escorted to the platform to be with her son.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe this,” she said. “He told me he was going to get it.”
Some of the divers remained in the water to search for the first cross. Miros Petru, 17, also a student at Tarpon Springs High, retrieved that cross and, like Mailisand, was carried on the shoulders of fellow divers to the church for a blessing from the archbishop. Both boys will be named this year’s cross retrievers.
“That’s a double blessing for Tarpon Springs,” said Mayor David Archie.
It was not the first time that more than one cross had to be thrown. Since at least the 1970s, two crosses have been made for the dive because one previous year the only cross tossed could not be found.
(source: Tampa Bay)