Thousands are celebrating the Epiphany and Greek culture in Tarpon Springs today.
January 6 is the holy day of the Theophany (Epiphany), and the Greek Orthodox community is celebrating the 109th annual Epiphany Cross Dive and Festival.
The day began with services at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral and shortly after 12:30, dozens of young men dove into the chilly waters of the Tarpon Springs Bayou, trying to recover a wooden cross thrown by the archbishop.
The centerpiece of the event is that race to the cross. The decades-old tradition is how Eastern Orthodox Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes the murky waters can make recovering the cross difficult, and a "backup cross" is ready to be thrown in, just in case no youth comes up with the prize.
There was no need for it this year, as it took only a few short frenzied seconds for one of the young men to hold up the white cross for all to see! The retriever of the cross is said to be blessed for the entire year.
This year that blessed teen is Kosta Pseftelis, an 18-year-old local college student.
Joanna Mulder's son was diving for the first time this year. Mulder earlier told us that while the year-long blessing would be nice, she is just proud her teen son is participating.
"I'm kind of excited. I think that if he gets it that's great, but I think the whole blessing today and tomorrow is for the boys. All of them are lucky," said Mulder.
Mulder points out that her son is the third in the family who has attempted to retrieve the cross.
After the Cross Dive, a Greek "Glendi" or festival featuring traditional music and food is taking place. Upwards of 25,000 people are expected for the festivities.