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Prime minister of Greece set to attend Tarpon Springs’ Epiphany

Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be the highest-ranking official from Greece to ever visit Tarpon Springs’ annual Epiphany event and cross dive.

TARPON SPRINGS — Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the prime minister of Greece, is scheduled to visit the city this weekend ahead of attending Monday’s 114th Epiphany Celebration.

The 51-year-old Mitsotakis will be the highest-ranking Greek official to ever attend Tarpon Springs’ annual Greek Orthodox celebration. The day after Epiphany, he is scheduled for a White House meeting with President Donald Trump.

Epiphany draws thousands every year to mark the baptism of Jesus Christ. The highlight is when dozens of teen boys dive into Spring Bayou on Monday to retrieve the coveted cross.

The prime minister was elected in July and will be joined by Archbishop Elpidophoros, who will be attending his first Epiphany after being appointed in June as the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Greece's prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, delivers a speech during a parliament session in Athens on Dec. 18. Greek lawmakers debated the state budget for 2020. [YORGOS KARAHALIS | AP]

Both are scheduled to speak at a dinner Sunday night at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor sponsored by the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.

About 450 people from across the country are scheduled to attend the event with the prime minister, said John M. Lelekis, president of the group’s Tarpon Springs chapter.

“He is coming to epiphany in our city," Lelekis said. “That is a big deal.”

However, details about the prime minister’s schedule, the purpose of his visit to Tarpon Springs and his Sunday speech were hard to come by.

The Greek Consulate General in Tampa referred all questions about Mitsotakis’ visit to the Embassy of Greece in Washington D.C. The embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

Tarpon Springs Mayor Chris Alahouzos was out of the country on Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. The city referred questions about the prime minister’s visit to the mayor’s assistant, who also could not be reached for comment.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, will attend Sunday night’s dinner, according to his office.

The “rumor mill” says U.S. Sens Marco Rubio and Rick Scott will also attend Sunday’s dinner, Lelekis said. But he said he has not confirmed that information. Requests for comment made to the offices of Rubio and Scott were not returned on Tuesday.

Local youth dancers will perform a special Cretan dance for the prime minister, who is from the Greek island of Crete. The idea is to “honor his heritage" as he honors Tarpon Springs with his visit, Lelekis said.

Editor’s note: John M. Lelekis is the president of the Tarpon Springs chapter of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association. He was misidentified in a previous version of this story.