TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - Tarpon Springs' Epiphany celebration typically draws thousands of spectators, but when the young divers head into the water in January, the event will be closed to the public for the first time in 115 years.
The city made the call because of the risk of COVID-19 and concerns that a crowded event could turn deadly if carried out as usual.
St. Nicholas Church is limiting parishioner capacity to 50 percent.
Divers will wear masks until jumping into the water.
Two family members per diver will be allowed into the parent viewing area.
The city is still working on logistics to make sure those who do attend remain socially distanced.
For 114 years, many have headed to Tarpon Springs for Epiphany celebrations. It marks the baptism of Jesus Christ. It's also a day when dozens of young men dive into the Spring Bayou in hopes of finding a special cross. (FOX 13 News)
Epiphany is a rite of passage honoring the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River more than 2,000 years ago. It's a tradition that lasts all day in the Pinellas County city as local teenage boys dive into Spring Bayou to retrieve a cross thrown into the water by an archbishop.
The boy who surfaces with the cross is said to have good luck for the following year. The dive is typically followed by an Epiphany Glendi, which is a big gathering with food, drink, and live music -- but not this time. The big changes to the event came in a special event application dated and submitted to Tarpon Springs on Dec. 15 and accepted later that evening.
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