Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

Fourth teen is named Epiphany cross retriever in Tarpon Springs

TARPON SPRINGS — In the latest twist to this year's Epiphany celebration, organizers announced Monday that a fourth teen has been named a 2012 cross retriever.

It's the first time in Tarpon Springs' 106-year Epiphany history that this has happened. The unprecedented recognition follows controversy at Friday's religious ceremony, in which three boys — rather than one — were named victors after the annual cross dive into Spring Bayou.

Now 16-year-old Alexi Lake of New Port Richey joins Louis Mailisand and Miros Petru, both 17 and cousins, and 16-year-old Jared Alissandratos. Lake is a junior at Gulf High School in Pasco County; the others attend Tarpon Springs High School.

Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, threw a second cross Friday after the first he had tossed into the bayou couldn't be found. Mailisand retrieved the second cross; then some boys kept searching for the first one, and Petru found it. Hours later, organizers determined that Mailisand had grabbed the cross away from another boy, Alissandratos.

Over the weekend, photos and video surfaced on Facebook, YouTube and local news sites purporting to show Lake lifting the second cross out of the water with both hands before he was dragged down by other divers.

However, Father Michael Eaccarino of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral said Monday that clergy members had already decided last week to honor Lake but didn't announce it because they were still gathering information. Eaccarino is awaiting the delivery of three additional trophies and crosses to be presented during a church ceremony for all the honorees.

"I don't want everyone to think we investigated all these films and YouTube and pictures. This isn't a court of law. This isn't a CSI investigative team," Eaccarino said. "We took what we saw, what everyone saw, what people have shared with us. We made the decision in consensus at the direction of our spiritual leader, our archbishop, that this would be the best way to honor the boys."

Messages of congratulations began filling up Lake's Facebook page after he was notified of the honor Monday morning.

Lake said Monday, "I have no hard feelings toward any of those guys. Having the cross is a huge honor."

But according to Lake, a first-time Epiphany diver who attends Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Hellenic Orthodox Church in Palm Harbor, the honor was hard-earned.

"It was right underneath the surface, and I grabbed it and lifted it up out (of) the water, … and then it was taken away," said Lake, a former member of his school's swim team. "Being a swimmer, I was prepared for how I should tread water, so when I was pulled under for so long, it got scary. It was hard to breathe."

Dive coordinator Michael Kouskoutis said it's typical for multiple divers to grab the cross at the same time and grapple for it. The difference between past cross dives and this year's is that "generally it's a tussle underwater," he said.

"If you're able to break the water with that cross in the air, there was no question who the retriever was. But when you have two or three people grabbing the cross on top of the water, how do you distinguish who was the retriever?" he said. "So in the spirit of fairness, you would just reward those boys who were able to get their hands on it."

Both Kouskoutis and Eaccarino say a second cross should never have been thrown. That "disobedience" is what caused this year's controversy, Eaccarino said.

"Maybe that is what God wanted — for it not to be found for whatever reason. Or maybe he wanted to send a message to us by not finding it or by delaying the find," Eaccarino said. "Remember, our ways are not his way. God has a plan. And even through the disobedience of the second cross, we have double blessings. Four boys now have blessings."

He added: "I guarantee the rule will be only one cross in the future."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153.

Comments
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG ó Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USFís latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time itís done.For starters, it...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Republican response to immigration firestorm; donít let Yuengling name scare you; free from jail after seven years

The Daystarter: Republican response to immigration firestorm; donít let Yuengling name scare you; free from jail after seven years

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.ē Thereís no more denying it: summer is here. The forecast calls for highs near 90 degrees for the foreseeable future, coupled with afternoon showers, according to 10Weather WTSP.ē As y...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didnít help. Tariffs played a big role, too.Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs last month....
Updated: 9 minutes ago
What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

What historically high lumber prices mean for Florida home buyers

Blame a lack of rail cars in Canada or not enough semi trucks in the United States. Forest fires didnít help. Tariffs played a big role, too.Even the buoyant economy takes part of the rap for frothy lumber prices, which hit all-time highs last month....
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Safety Harbor is no safe haven from cyberbullying

Safety Harbor is no safe haven from cyberbullying

SAFETY HARBOR ó Mayor Joe Ayoub put forth a resolution Monday evening asking the City Commission to condemn cyberbullying.The result? The meeting devolved into shouting and whispering from the crowd and people storming out of chambers.The mayorís res...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hereís the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

Hereís the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

It started with jugs of olive oil and cans of tuna, lots of it, which my husband hauled in one day and plunked on the counter. "Thatís my lunch!"That was about three months ago, and every day since there has been a new entity in our house to consider...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA ó Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

A valet at this South Tampa Publix will park your car as you shop

TAMPA ó Publix shoppers in South Tampa who hate circling the lot for parking can now toss their keys to a valet.The Publix at Dale Mabry and Neptune started testing a free valet service last week that could expand to more stores. Spokesman Brian West...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Ice cream man granted bail after lawyer notes weaknesses in 2010 Ruskin murder case

Ice cream man granted bail after lawyer notes weaknesses in 2010 Ruskin murder case

TAMPA ó Michael Edward Keetley has spent the last 2,756 days in the Falkenburg Road Jail awaiting trial ó and a possible death sentence if convicted ó for a Ruskin shooting spree that killed two men.Now he might go home.A judge this week approved Kee...
Updated: 7 minutes ago