TUESDAY TRAVELER - Tarpon Springs, FL - The109th Annual Greek Epiphany

The sun casts long early morning shadows, temperatures in the mid-60s, and the water is like glass.  We search for a place to launch kayaks.  There it is, a walkable incline, floating dock, secure parking, and a short walk from the van to the water.  IT"S BLOCKED.

‘Copter Bill’, a local friend, who is a quad copter (drone) pilot/photographer, parked the van and we readied our equipment.  As we placed our cameras and drone near the incline we saw law enforcement looking on.  No shouts denying or giving us permission to be there, we continue.

Under their watchful eyes, we unload the kayaks, launch them, and transfer our equipment from the shore; still no shouts from law enforcement.

Van secure, kayaks launched, equipment loaded, we climb aboard, and paddle to Spring Bayou.
This week, the 'Tuesday Traveler' is back with a local event that takes place annually on the 6th of January, in the town of Tarpon Springs, Florida; The Greek Epiphany.

The earliest reference to Epiphany as a Christian feast was in A.D. 361 as a general celebration of the manifestation of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Epiphany is recognized throughout the world, and celebrated with a variety of traditions.  For instance, in the state of Louisiana in the United States (US), it marks the beginning of the ‘Carnival’ season, culminating with ‘Mardi Gras’. 

Another tradition is In the US city of Tarpon Springs, Florida, where they have given themselves the name “Epiphany City”.  This celebration includes blessings and concludes with the toss of a wooden cross into Spring Bayou, which boys from the ages of 16 and 18 years old dive to retrieve it.  The boy that recovers the cross is said to have blessed year.  (For more information see – Wikipedia)

Working our way through anchored pleasure boats, other kayakers, canoers, and paddle boarders, we searched for a place to watch the festivities.  We tied off on two private docks about 75 yards apart.

Spring Bayou from 'Copter Billl's' quad
The celebration began with the Archbishop and other priests blessing a group of fifty, 16 and 18 year old boys that would dive for the 'Cross'.  After blessing the divers, they ran, jumped into the bayou, and swam to small boats forming a circle in the middle of the bayou.

Cross divers just before blessings
Cross divers after blessing run and jump into Spring Bayou

 Divers in the water, priests and dignitaries followed the Archbishop to a platform overlooking the bayou where additional blessings were delivered.  Included were the blessings of the water and the release of a peace dove.

Dignitaries walking to dock
Releasing of the peace dove (middle of picture)
 Blessings complete, the boys readied for the toss of the cross.  Within less than two minutes the cross is recovered, divers celebrate and congratulate the retriever, and they exit the water.
Cross being tossed (hand of Archbishop on left)

Cross entering the water (just above boat, below person with red shirt)

The young man that retrieved the cross
Although the festivities relocated to a party venue, we elected to call it a day.  After about five hours of sitting in a kayak, it was time to get back on dry land. 

Until next time,

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