The Feast of Theophany, the Feast of Lights
The 112th Annual Epiphany Celebration in Tarpon Springs, Florida took place on Saturday, with Christian Chrysakis retrieving the Holy Cross from the water.
The Greek Orthodox celebration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ by Saint John the Baptist was held at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs.
Observances began at 8 a.m. with Orthros followed by the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at Saint Nicholas Church at 10 a.m.
Hierarchs, clergy, dignitaries and thousands of people formed a procession to Spring Bayou for the celebration. There, a young faithful released a dove symbolising the Holy Spirit that flew over the bayou.
This year, 57 young men dove into the water to catch the Holly Cross.
Christian Chrysakis, 18, of Tarpon Springs was the swimmer to retrieve the Cross from the water.
Archbishop Demetrios of America presided at the celebrations of Holy Epiphany and the tossing of the Cross in Spring Bayou.
Following the Divine Liturgy and the Agiasmos Service in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, a procession lead to Spring Bayou. Participating in the services and the celebrations were Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanellia and Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, who had served as pastor, the Tarpon Springs Church for several years.
Sixty-one 16-18 year-old boys dove for the Cross, but several minutes later none was able to retrieve the Cross. Archbishop Demetrios then decided to toss into the bayou the second white wooden cross which is made for such an eventuality. The Cross was retrieved by Louis Mailisand, 17; and Jared Alissandratos, 16; as it was determined by officials. Shortly after the clergy and the officials had departed the area, Miros Petru, 17, who with some other divers had stayed into the water looking for the first Cross retrieved it and was carried on the shoulders of the other divers to the Church and was also declared a winner.
A traditional feast and dancing concluded the day at the Spanos/Pappas Community Center.
The Schedule of the Celebrations
Friday, Jan. 5, 2018
Noon: Blessing of the Fleet at the entrance to the Sponge Exchange— Reverend Father Sampson Kasapakis and clergy will bless the fisherman, their vessels, and the water in which they travel, and wish them safe and prosperous journeys followed by a memorial service for the spongers and fisherman of the past. The service will occur at the Sponge Docks on the Anclote River, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. Both commercial fishermen and recreational boaters will participate.
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018
8 a.m: Orthos & Divine Liturgy Epiphany Services at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 36 N. Pinellas Ave., Tarpon Springs
12 p.m: Great Blessing of the Waters (at Cathedral) Celebrated by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Archdiocese of America and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta.
12:30 p.m: Traditional Litany Procession- Hierarchs, clergy, dignitaries and thousands of faithful onlookers will form an impressive procession to Spring Bayou, led by altar boys, school children in traditional costumes, choir members and Greek Folk dance groups from throughout the Tampa Bay area. After arriving at the bayou, an invocation will be recited and a dove bearer will release a white dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit to fly over the bayou.
1 p.m: Casting of the Cross- The Archbishop will cast a custom-made, specially weighted, white wooden cross into the water and 57 young men will dive for the honor of retrieving the Holy Cross.
In a moving scene, the retriever will kneel and present the cross to the Archbishop and, in return, receive a blessing. The divers, hierarchs and clergy will return to the Cathedral for final remarks and presentations.
12:30 to 11 p.m: Epiphany Glendi- Following the ceremony, an Epiphany Glendi festival will be held in the courtyard surrounding the church with food, drink, live music and dancing. There will also be shows of traditional Greek dancing performed by the Levendia, the nationally award-winning Greek dance troupe in addition to children’s games and activities.
The His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios at the Glendi will honor the Epiphany divers and the cross victor and divers will be there throughout the day’s festivities.
Christian Chrysakis retrieves 2018 Epiphany cross
TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. (WFLA) — Tarpon Springs is celebrating Epiphany this weekend.
The tradition celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan.
This year Bishop Metropolitan Alexios (Panagiotopoulos) of Atlanta cast the custom-made white wooden cross into the water at Spring Bayou just after 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in Tarpon Springs. Dozens of local boys dove into the water to retrieve it.
The cross was retrieved a few moments later by Christian Chrysakis of Tarpon Springs who turned 18 last month. This was his final year to dive.
He will now have a year of blessings.
”I believed in it. I am just so thankful to be here with all my brothers right now. I am speechless,” said Christian Chrysakis.
Amanda Ciavarri, our reporter on the ground said the water temperature was about 67 degrees at the time of the jump. This year, the church allowed the divers to wear wetsuits under the traditional t-shirts and shorts.
“It wasn’t that cold. I was worried but it wasn’t that cold,” said Chrysakis.
Our crews said it did take a few minutes for Chrysakis to find the cross. After retrieving the cross, Chrysakis knelt down and presented the cross to the Archbishop in return for a blessing. He was then carried to the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
An Epiphany Glendi festival will now be held in the church courtyard.
— Eagle 8 HD Photo (@8_plamison) 6 Ιανουαρίου 2018
Christian Chrysakis 18 if Tarpon Springs Is this year’s cross retriever pic.twitter.com/wGOxulgPax
— Amanda Ciavarri (@WFLAAmanda) 6 Ιανουαρίου 2018