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Epiphany cross dive to welcome back spectators for traditional event

Posted at 3:29 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 10:38:08-05

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Christian Chrysakis’ face lights up when he talks about what it means to find the cross during the epiphany celebration.

“Me and one of my best friends caught the cross the year before and we talk about it all the time. It’s always a conversation starter,” said Chrysakis, who found the cross in 2018.

Thursday, Jan. 6 will be the 116th year for the Epiphany in Tarpon Springs, which celebrates the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist.

“As the week nears my adrenaline pumps. For me, I look at the epiphany day as a reaffirmation of my faith,” said Mike Kouskoutis, Chairman of the Divers.

And while some years the event has brought as many as 30,000 people, COVID meant attendance restrictions year.

“Last year was my little brother’s first year and I was excited for him. But I wasn’t excited because I felt bad he didn’t get to experience it in full swing,” said Chrysakis.

Last year there was a fear city leaders were going to cancel the cross dive altogether. But the community fought to save the event with just family members there to watch.

This year, they are excited to welcome everyone back to the Bayou.

“I know all the families will be here because they are going to want to see their children participate. We have a high school band this year. And the young kids in their traditional costumes participating. We didn’t have that last year. And so some of what you’ll see this year is getting back to normality,” said Kouskoutis.

While the event is completely open to the public, the traditional Glendi Festival that usually follows is once again canceled.

Only one diver will find the cross. But for the first time, all will get one of these specially designed challenge coins to mark a day they will likely never forget.