Year of good luck comes with cold start at Saturday's Epiphany

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A year of good luck will come with a chilly start for the young men participating in this year's Epiphany Celebration in Tarpon Springs.

"Yeah, the weather is pretty scary but it's all going to turn out fine, we have God on our side," said 16-year-old Alexander Theophilopoulos. "We're praying, it'll be fine."

Theophilopoulos will have his first shot at diving for the cross in Saturday's Epiphany Celebration. It's said to bring good luck for a year to the one who retrieves it. 

The Gulf of Mexico's temperature is hovering around 60 degrees. The temperature at the Spring Bayou is about 10 degrees warmer, which means the water Saturday will be warmer than the actual air temperature outside. 

"I'm a little nervous about it being cold, but I think it's going to be more exciting with the cold weather and I don't know,"  said Panagiotis Vassios, diving for his third and final time. "I'm not really treating it any differently, it's just going to be colder."

The 57 divers have been told they can wear wetsuits under their swimsuits and Epiphany t-shirts. 

"The boys basically said, 'No!' They want to go with tradition, and do exactly how their fathers walked down the streets of Tarpon Springs to Spring Bayou barefoot, with their shorts on and their Epiphany t-shirts," said Johanna Kossifidis, the Director of Media and Public Relations at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. "Tradition lives on here in Tarpon Springs." 

Extra paramedics and thermal blankets will be on hand, and a triage area will be set up to make sure the divers are safe. 

"Their adrenaline is running so high at that moment, that I don't believe that they feel what the weather is, whether it's hot that day or cold that day, they're so excited that they just want to get in the water, be in there with their brothers and retrieve that beloved cross," explained Kossifidis.

A day before the 112th Epiphany celebration takes place, folks enjoyed their surroundings in coats and gloves, certainly no weather to be swimming in. 

"I've been wanting to swim but I'm too, like, scared to go into the water. It's too cold," said Vassios. "I guess tomorrow is going to be my first time in the water!"

Back in 2010, it was barely 40 degrees outside. Tomorrow's high in Tarpon Springs is expected to be in the 50s. 

The Casting of the Cross and dive at the Spring Bayou will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday.