On January 6, the coastal city of Tarpon will celebrate its 108th Epiphany ceremony. It is estimated that 25,ooo spectators will attend the largest celebration of its kind in the United States which commemorates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.
Chris Palaidis, the principal of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral’s Greek School reported that Monday will be a busy day. “We are preparing and everything is going well.” he said.
Forty-four Greek Orthodox teen boys will dive in Spring Bayou and try to catch the blessed cross in a quest from blessings from the Lord. This custom is also considered as the passage from childhood into manhood. The Archbishop Demetrios, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America will bless the waters and the boys that will take part in the ceremony.
A white dove that symbolizes the Holy Spirit will be released and after that the archbishop will throw the blessed wooden cross into the bayou. The young men will then dive in the cold water and try to retrieve it.
Following the dive, celebrations will proceed with food, music and dancing during the Greek festival Glendi, at the Spanos Pappas Community Center Theophilos Hall, 348 N Pinellas Avenue. The festival includes traditional dance performances by the national award-winning Greek dance group, Levendia and other local dance groups.
The events for the celebration of Epiphany are free and open to public. Due to the celebrations, parts of Spring Boulevard and Tarpon, Safford and Pinellas avenues will be closed from 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.