TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — When 60 Greek Orthodox boys dive for the cross at the Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs on Monday, they will be jumping out of ten very special boats.
The famous fiberglass sponge dinghies anchored in a semi-circle in Spring Bayou are made by Stamas Yacht, one of the oldest family-owned boatbuilders in America.
“It’s what God wants us to do,” says John Stamas, head of the company. “To help the church and to help people.”
The sprawling Greek Stamas family has been in the boat business since the 1950s.
The Stamases have been a part of the Epiphany celebration — whether as divers or boat providers — even longer.
The new fiberglass dinghies are wide and sturdy, and have a keel to keep them from going sideways. The ten boats will each hold six boys, all who will anxiously wait for the archbishop to hurl the cross into the bayou.
“These boats are very stable in the water, that’s why we like this design,” says Stamas.
They’re also adorned with gold crosses and assorted names and memorials of people from the Tarpon Springs community.
The Friday before Epiphany, the divers helped guide the boats from the Stamas docks around the bend to Spring Bayou.