Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will." ~Vernon Howard

Yesterday, we travelled to Tarpon Springs, about 45 minutes north of St. Petersburg. Tarpon Springs has a very large Greek population, and is the Greek sponge-diving capital of the world. The purpose of our trip was observe the annual Epiphany celebration which includes the tossing of a weighted wooden cross into Spring Bayou.  It was a beautiful blue-skied day with temperatures in the lower 70's - my kind of weather,

Information provided by Bay News 9 gives you a bit of history behind the cross dive.

"The annual Epiphany celebration is set for today in Tarpon Springs.
Every Jan. 6 for more than a century, dozens of teenage boys set out from the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs to seek God's blessing.
They dive off boats and search the water for a wooden cross tossed in by a priest. The one lucky enough to surface with it earns instant celebrity status, a ride through the streets on the shoulders of his peers and the favor of God in the coming year.  He and his family also receive a spiritual blessing.
The Tarpon Springs "Cross Dive" is the centerpiece of the largest Epiphany event in the Western Hemisphere, celebrating the day Orthodox Christians believe Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan."

Today, I asked Bruce to man the camera so that I could just enjoy the experience.  I think he did a great job!  Today's toss was a departure from previous years.  The water was so dark and murky that the first thrown cross could not be found.  A second cross was tossed and rapidly recovered.  After the first young man was carried off in victory, several of the divers remained in the water in an attempt to find the original cross.  After much searching, it was recovered!  The honor will be shared jointly between the two young men throughout the coming year.

The crowd was estimated at  20,000 last year.  I can't imagine that there were that many people even then - there's just not enough space.  Several thousand however, sounds about right, and they  were seated all along the shore of the bayou.  The small boats that you see are where the divers will wait until the cross is eventually thrown into  he water.
The belly of a manatee - you're just going to have to take my word for it.
At the signal, the young men plunge into the water and scramble onto one of the little boats - the ones nearest the stand where the cross will be thrown from are the boats that are scrambled to first.
~ On they pile ~
~ Listening to the "Blessing of the Waters" and waiting for the toss ~ 
~ Eager anticipation ~
~ Ready, set .... ~
~ Go! ~

The young man who retrieves the cross is carried through the streets on the shoulders of his fellow divers.
What a fun experience!  So unlike anything that we have done before - the first of many firsts while here in Florida!


  1. Well done Bruce. I have never been to Florida, it looks beautiful. Enjoy the beach for me !! Clarice

  2. What a fun event! Bruce is a good back-up photographer, too. Love your blog's new look, Tracy. It's very appropriate. Can't wait to see your next outing!