Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A guide to Epiphany, Tarpon Springs-style

Crowds surround Spring Bayou in 2006 for the 100th Epiphany celebration as cross divers wait in boats.

JIM DAMASKE | Times (2006)

Crowds surround Spring Bayou in 2006 for the 100th Epiphany celebration as cross divers wait in boats.


Related News/Archive

Organizers have a few changes in store for the 103rd annual Epiphany celebration.

The first-ever Diver's Ball was to be held Saturday night to give younger participants a chance to dance the night away before the festivities begin in full force on Tuesday.

And this year's Glendi has been moved from Craig Park to the cathedral's community center and extended until 9 p.m.

The expanded Glendi will take the place of the annual Epiphany Ball. "We're trying to give people the opportunity to stay longer and eat more and dance more," said event co-spokeswoman Johanna Kossifidis.

The Glendi, which in Greek means "to have fun, to have a good time," said Kossifidis, will include live music, dancing and traditional Greek food.

This year, divers will head to the Glendi after the event to be honored. Normally, that takes place at the cathedral, but organizers said they decided to use the community center to provide more room for guests.

Organizers said they expect fewer spectators this year because of a weak economy and the fact the event takes place on a weekday when kids are back in school.

But the traditions passed down for more than a century haven't changed. The morning will start with church services, followed by a procession to Spring Bayou, where a young woman will release a white dove before a cross is thrown into the water.

The young man who retrieves the cross will receive a special blessing and, custom says, enjoy a year of prosperity.

Here's a look at the schedule of events and some of the traditions of the annual Epiphany, which celebrates Jesus' baptism by St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

— Rita Farlow, Times Staff Writer

The dove bearer

Each year, one young woman is chosen from the choir at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral to release the dove over Spring Bayou. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit and its release is the cue for the cross to be thrown into the bayou.

This year's bearer is Ioana Bociu, 18, a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Palm Harbor University High School. She is a member of the Levendia Greek dance group and the Greek Orthodox Youth of America and a volunteer with Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.

The blessing of the fleet

At 11 a.m. Monday, clergy will bless the fishermen, their vessels and the water, and wish them safe and prosperous journeys, at the Sponge Docks on the Anclote River. Both commercial fishermen and recreational boaters will participate.

Tuesday's schedule

8 a.m. — Orthros/Matins at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 36 N Pinellas Ave.

9:30 a.m. — Divine liturgy at the cathedral.

Noon — Blessing of the waters by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta.

12:30 p.m. — Traditional procession with clergy, altar servers, visiting dignitaries, children dressed in traditional Greek costumes, band, choir, teen divers and the dove bearer with the white dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit. After the bearer releases the dove, Demetrios will throw the Epiphany cross and the dive to retrieve it will begin.

1:30-9 p.m. — Glendi at the Spanos-Pappas Community Center Theofilos Hall, 348 N Pinellas Ave., with food, drink, live music and Greek dancing. Admission is $2.


The procession will leave the cathedral at approximately 12:15 p.m. and travel east on Orange Street, south on Safford Avenue and west on Tarpon Avenue to Spring Bayou.


Traffic congestion and detours can be expected from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. N Pinellas Avenue (Alt. 19) will be closed in front of the cathedral, between Tarpon Avenue and Orange Street. On N Pinellas Avenue, southbound traffic will detour to Pine Street and northbound traffic will detour to Lemon Street. Also, Tarpon Avenue will be closed between Ring Avenue and Spring Bayou. Questions? Call the police department's nonemergency phone number at (727) 938-2849 or City Hall at (727) 938-3711.

By the numbers


Number of cross divers this year


Number of cross divers in 2008


Number of volunteers

8,000 to 10,000

Number of spectators expected this year


Estimated number of spectators in 2008


Years that Tarpon Springs has celebrated Epiphany

A guide to Epiphany, Tarpon Springs-style 01/03/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 1:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pasco targets repeat offenders with new code enforcement tactic

    Local Government

    HOLIDAY — The out-of-date and overpriced gasoline cost on the sign outside — $2.69 for a gallon of regular — is the first indication that business isn't booming.

    Basil A. Almamluk is the owner of the closed Pure Gas station in Holiday, which has emerged as a poster child for a new "high return'' county code enforcement effort. The property on Mile Stretch Drive is littered with discarded furniture and other trash. [Photo courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Pasco tax roll shows increase, but so, too, are budget requests

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's tax roll grew by more than 5 percent in 2016, but it's a figure that likely would require local government budget writers to trim proposed spending requests.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
New construction accounted for $693.5 million in taxable property values being added to the Pasco County tax rolls in 2016, according to preliminary estimates released by Property Appraiser Gary Joiner. Overall, the property tax roll grew more than 5 percent, according to the preliminary numbers.

  3. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  4. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  5. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.