Celebration With Its Own Tarpon Springs Style


TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Thousands of people are gathering in Tarpon Springs this weekend for Epiphany.

  • Multi-day Greek festival celebrates Jesus’ baptism
  • Highlight is throwing of the cross in Spring Bayou
  • Thousands witnessed boys chase cross thrown by archbishop

Epiphany commemorates the centuries-old baptism of Jesus Christ.

For the 114th year, crowds will turn out at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral and at Spring Bayou for the traditional throwing of the cross during Epiphany celebrations.

On Monday, young Greek boys will dive into the bayou to attempt to retrieve a cross thrown into the water by the archbishop. The act signifies Jesus’ going into the river Jordan and the retriever is said to have a year of good luck.

After the cross toss, what follows is the Epiphany Glendi, a lively all-day gathering with food, drink and live music.

Tarpon Springs Epiphany Schedule

Orthros – 8:00am

Archierarchical Liturgy – 9:30am

Greater Blessing of Waters (Catherdral) – 11:30am

Procession to Spring Bayou – 12:15pm

Blessing of the Bayou and Casting of the Cross – 1:00pm

Following the ceremony, an Epiphany Glendi festival will be held in the courtyard surrounding the church with food, drink, live music and dancing.

Where: St Nicholas Church and Tarpon Springs Bayou

Dates: 01/06/2020 – 01/06/2020

Time: 8:00am – 1:00pm

11 Things You Should Know About Epiphany

For Christians, the event marks an important celebration in the life of Jesus Christ: the Feast of the Epiphany.

How and why you observe Epiphany depends largely on where you’re from. But in Tarpon Springs, the celebration is a century-old tradition for thousands of people. 

Here are some things you should know about Epiphany in Tarpon Springs:

1. In the western churches, Epiphany observes the visit of the Three Wise Men to the infant Jesus (a.k.a. Three Kings Day). But in the Orthodox churches, Epiphany observes Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.

2. Epiphany is usually celebrated on Jan. 6, though some celebrate it on New Year’s Day.

3. Tarpon Springs, in the Tampa Bay area, is home to the largest Epiphany festival in the country. Up to 20,000 people normally attend the event.

4. Tarpon Springs’ first Epiphany event took place in 1906 with just a few people.

5. Tarpon Springs’ Epiphany is very similar to how Epiphany is celebrated in Greece and one of the few in the U.S. to follow this tradition.

6. Epiphany in Tarpon Springs is such a major event that the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in America often attends the festivities.

7. Epiphany is celebrated over two days, beginning with the Blessing of the Fleet on Friday and culminating in the blessing of the waters on Saturday, including the diving for the cross.

8. During this ritual, a high-ranking member of the Greek Orthodox Church throws a wooden (or gold) cross into Spring Bayou, and dozens of teenage boys will dive for it.

9. Boys from nine Tampa Bay-area churches will take part in the diving for the cross this year. The dive signifies Christ’s immersion into the River Jordan. The diver who retrieves the cross receives the blessing of the church, and it’s said he will have good fortune and “divine beneficence” in the new year.

10. After the dive, there’s a festival called Glendi that features Greek food and traditional music and dancing. This year, the festival will be outside.

11. Tarpon Springs residents believe St. Nicholas, the city’s patron saint and the namesake of the Greek Orthodox Church in the city, protects them from hurricanes. Before Hurricane Irma, the last hurricane to pass through Tarpon Springs was in 1920.

Epiphany Day Celebration Road Closures

Monday January 6, 2020 

Closures from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m.

Primary Locations:

Pinellas Avenue (US Alternate 19 SR 595) from Orange Street to Lemon Street

Tarpon Avenue from Ring Avenue to Spring Boulevard

Court Street from Pinellas Avenue to Spring Boulevard

Spring Boulevard from Lemon Street to Grand Boulevard

Safford Avenue from Orange Street to Lemon Street

Closures from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Primary Locations:

Pinellas Avenue (US Alternate 19 SR 595) from Pine Street to Lemon Street

Tarpon Avenue from Ring Avenue to Spring Boulevard

Court Street from Pinellas Avenue to Spring Boulevard

Spring Boulevard from Lemon Street to Read Street 

Safford Avenue from Pine Street to Lemon Street

Ring Avenue from Orange Street to Lemon Street

Suggested Detours:

East – West:  Martin Luther King Jr. Drive or Spruce Street

North – South:  U.S. Highway 19

Spectrum News Digital Media Producer Christi Zizo contributed to this report.



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