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Good For You | Nova Beall

Florida Folk Heritage Award honors Tarpon sponge diver

The Tarpon Springs Department of Cultural and Civic Services recently announced that Anastasios "Taso" Karistinos was the recipient of a 2010 Florida Folk Heritage Award for excellence as a sponge diver and sponge boat captain.

Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced the winners on March 24 in Tallahassee, honoring Karistinos and other Floridians who have made contributions to the state in historic preservation, writing, folk heritage, public service, the arts and entertainment.

Karistinos hails from the Greek island of Euboea, where he won several free-diving contests in his youth and was introduced to scuba diving while in his teens.

He came to Tarpon Springs in 1973 and started diving for various sponge boat captains. He was mentored by legendary diver John "The Greek" Maillis.

Karistinos harvests sponges in the Gulf of Mexico from March to December, working in water 10 to 30 feet deep while wearing a wetsuit and receiving compressed air in a mask through a hose. His boat, the Anastasi, was built by 2009 Florida Folk Heritage Award winner George Saroukos and is the only working traditional Greek-style sponge boat today.

Sponge diving is often difficult due to dangerous weather and diving conditions, long stretches of time away from home, and the uncertainty of adequate economic compensation.

Karistinos persists because of his dedication to the tradition and a love for the sea. He is widely considered one of the best examples of the sponge diving and the sponge boat captain traditions.

• • •

Jack and Bobbie Govan of Belleair celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with two parties in Clearwater; the first at Heilman's Beachcomber Restaurant on April 15, and the second at Capogna's Dugout.

The Govans met in a Big Bear supermarket in Detroit and were married April 15, 1950, at St. Gregory Parish, Detroit.

After retirement from the Ford Motor Co. in Detroit, the Govans came here in 1979 from Dearborn Heights, Mich.

They are members of St. Cecelia Catholic Church, Clearwater.

The couple have six children and 12 grandchildren.

• • •

Eight students from Pinellas County high schools have received prestigious national awards for their outstanding artwork through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the 87-year-old national program that recognizes outstanding creative teens and offers scholarships to graduating seniors.

This year's award recipients from North Pinellas are: Madeline Job, Palm Harbor University, American Vision Medal; Ji Min Noh, Palm Harbor University, Gold Medal; and Georgia Hourdas, Tarpon Springs, Gold Medal.

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the national nonprofit organization that runs the Art & Writing Awards, will honor the students June 9 at a gala at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Selected award recipients and high school seniors recognized with top honors for portfolios will have their art/writing exhibited at the World Financial Courtyard Gallery in lower Manhattan June 9-25.

Job's mixed media titled Assimilation of Rabbit into a Modern World, Hourdas' photograph titled Shadow Woman, and Noh's design titled Green Card Renew 2013, will be on exhibit.

• • •

The first Crystal Beach Youth Art Show took place April 10 behind Crystal Beach Family Center.

The show was a success thanks to the Crystal Beach Family Center, the Crystal Beach Community Association, the Crystal Beach Art Group and the many volunteers and donors who contributed so much to this effort.

About 200 works of art were entered by more than 100 young artists.

Rocky Bridges, Steve Spathelf and Todd Still judged the event.

Cash prizes were awarded to first, second and third place winners in four age categories and art supplies went to those who received honorable mention.

For three-dimensional work, Kitana Lim won first place in the 6 to 12 year old age group; Briana Haloski earned top honors in the 13 to 18 year old age group.

For two-dimensional work, first place went to Hanna Hengst in the 6 to 9 year old age group; Oliver Borland in the 10 to 12 year old age group; Laura Grissette in the 13 to 15 year old age group; and Nick Johnson in the 16 to 18 year old age group.

The Mary Lowe Award was given to Steven Walters.

The People's Choice awards went to Ava Murray in the 6 to 9 year old age group; Steven Walters in the 10 to 12 year old age group; Evan McLenden in the 13 to 15 year old age group; and Britanee Murphy in the 16 to 18 year old age group.

To submit an item , write to Nova Beall, 710 Court Street, Clearwater, FL 33756. Fax to (727) 445-4119 or e-mail Good For You includes news of 50th wedding anniversaries, people celebrating their 100th birthday (or more) and young people's noteworthy achievements academically, in the arts or community service. For information or an anniversary form, call (727) 445-4221.

Florida Folk Heritage Award honors Tarpon sponge diver 04/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 10:24pm]
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