108th annual Epiphany 2014 celebration in Tarpon Springs

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - Tampa Bay's Greek Orthodox community celebrates the Epiphany on Monday in Tarpon Springs.

The celebration honors the Baptism of Jesus Christ by St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

Parts of Tarpon Avenue and Alternate U.S. 19 will be closed beginning at 8:00 a.m. to around 2:30 p.m.

For many, the highlight of the event is the dive for the cross, when dozens of teenage boys attempt to retrieve a cross thrown into Spring Bayou.

Some 25,000 to 30,000 are expected to gather along Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs to view the event.

Before the popular cross diving event , a service start the events 8:00 a.m. at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 36 N Pinellas Ave. 

The blessing of the waters will commence at 12:30 p.m. and a traditional litany procession to the Spring Bayou begins.

At 1:00 p.m., a dove will be released and then the cross dive will commence.  

Any male age 16 to 18 baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church and a current member in good standing in one of the Bay Area Parishes can participate in the cross dive.

The person who retrieves the cross is said to be blessed with a year of good luck.

Following the retrieval of the cross, the Glendi Festival begins, featuring live music, dancing and plenty of food. The free event takes place from 1:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Spanos Pappas Community Center Theophilos Hall, 348 N Pinellas Ave. Greek pastries and assorted bookstore items are offered for sale.

For more information on the Epiphany celebration, visit www.epiphanycity.org.

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