Tarpon Springs marks Epiphany with annual cross dive

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Dozens of young Greek teens rushed into Spring Bayou on Friday for a chance to retrieve a cross during the 111th Epiphany Celebration, which commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ.

The one who retrieves it is said to be blessed with good luck for a year.

Anderson Combs knows the anticipation the teens are feeling as they swim out to the boats and prepare to dive.  He retrieved the cross last year and  believes it's not about luck.

"It may be up to the boys, but when it comes down to it, you are chosen," he explained.  "It is all about God and it's about Jesus."

Family members of the divers also waited with excitement.  Many have been in these waters before.

For Pete Mykrollos, the tradition continued with his two sons diving Friday.

"It brings up great memories," he offered.  "It just makes me feel young again."

After the traditional blessing from the bishop and the release of a white dove, the cross was tossed.

Less than 30 seconds later, 18-year-old Joseph Cooley surfaced from the water clutching the cross. His fellow divers hoisted him on their shoulders in victory.

"It feels amazing," he exclaimed.  "There's no way to describe it.  It was just awesome -- every bit of it."

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