Annual Epiphany cross dive returns for 116th year in Tarpon Springs

Large crowds returned this year for the 116th Epiphany Celebration in Tarpon Springs.  

To honor the baptism of Jesus Christ, Thursday afternoon an archbishop blessed the waters of Spring Bayou and a group of 68 teenage boys jumped into the water to retrieve a wooden cross, thrown in by the bishop.  

It’s said to bring good luck to the person who retrieves it for the rest of the year. It’s a rite of passage for those who participate, and they have to be in good standing with the church.

This year, 16-year-old Alexander Makris of New Port Richey emerged with the cross held high in the air. 

Last year, 16-year-old Colten Sakadales was the first to grab the cross. His brother Hunter retrieved the cross the year before.  

FROM 2020: Annual Epiphany in Tarpon Springs honors tradition, but without the typical audience this year

This is the 116th year for the celebration -- and it is the largest Epiphany Celebration in the Western Hemisphere. In the past, the prime minister of Greece along and other high-ranking church members were present in Tarpon Springs for the event.

The Epiphany was scaled back last year due to the pandemic, and for the second-straight year, the Glendi Festival will not take place.