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Annual Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs limits attendance to 800 parishioners

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 07:50:22-05

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — The annual Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs will be limited to parishioners only.

The general public is encouraged to watch the blessing online or on television.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral announced it will distribute 800 passes to parishioners who wish to attend the Blessing of Spring Bayou.

RELATED: 115th annual Epiphany Celebration in Tarpon Springs: What you need to know

"Tomorrow morning, we will have a table set outside the church and only parishioners that are of Greek Orthodox faith will be able to receive a pass. We love our spectators. We love our community, but we're asking everyone just to stay home and view everything online on our church website," said Johanna Kossifidis, Director of Media Public Relations for Epiphany.

The 115th annual tradition is usually a day-long affair that is highlighted by local teenage boys diving into Spring Bayou to retrieve a cross thrown into the water by an archbishop.

About 55 teens will participate on Wednesday to try and search for the cross.

"It symbolizes the baptism of Jesus so when we get in these waters, we feel the same way as when Jesus was baptized. It is a really big blessing," said 18-year-old Theologos Karavokiros. "It has been a long tradition in my faith."

Parents of divers will receive a special parent ticket in advance. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets will only be distributed to people present.

Seating at church services at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday will also be limited.

"Our church will be at 50% capacity this year and the area we see around here will have maybe 800 people spread out throughout the bayou so they can be socially distant with their masks," said Kossifidis.

The Epiphany usually draws in 25,000 people. This year, the general public is asked to stay home.

"We will not have a Glendi this year. Our Glendi is a huge celebration that we typically have in Craig Park usually 3,000 to 4,000 people attend the Glendi," said Kossifidis.

"We want you to be safe. For those who are viewing at home, please enjoy and next year, we look forward to seeing you here because next year, I think, we will be able to go back to normal."

For more information, click here.

To view the celebration, click here.