Thousands are expected to pour into Tarpon Springs to attend the Monday morning and afternoon’s event celebrating the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River.
“Next Monday’s a busy day,” said Chris Palaidis, principal of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral’s Greek School. “We are preparing and everything is going well.”
The city typically expects more than 25,000 visitors to arrive for the largest celebration of its kind in the United States. This year’s will be the 108th Epiphany Day observance in Tarpon Springs.
Monday’s event begins at 8 a.m. with the Orthos and Devine Liturgy at St. Nicholas and is followed by the blessing of the waters at Spring Bayou by Archbishop Demetrios, head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta. at noon.
A procession with the clergy, altar servers, visiting dignitaries, school children dressed in traditional Greek costumes, bands and choirs will begin at 12:30 p.m. The slow march starts by heading east from at the intersection of East Orange and Hibiscus streets, turns south on Safford Avenue and then heads west on Tarpon Avenue to the water. It culminates in the release of a dove and about 60 young men diving for the Epiphany cross in Spring Bayou.
Motorists can expect closures along Tarpon and Pinellas avenues from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
The Glendi, a Greek festival with food, drinks, live music and dancing, follows the cross diving and is scheduled until 6 p.m. It’s held at the St. Nicholas Spanos-Pappas Community Center, 348 N. Pinellas Ave., and admission is free.
Prior to Monday’s Epiphany Day celebration will be the Blessing of the Fleet at the Sponge Docks from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Sunday by Archbishop Demetrios.
The archbishop will be at another event Sunday evening when he attends a dinner at the Tarpon Springs Yacht Club at 6 p.m.
For more information on this year’s Epiphany Day celebrations and events, call St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral at (727) 937-3540.