UNITED STATES NEWS

Florida’s Greek community celebrates the Epiphany with annual dive into water to retrieve cross

Jan 6, 2024, 12:46 PM

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — After thunderstorms moved past, Florida’s largest Greek Orthodox community celebrated the Epiphany on Saturday as a 16-year-old boy dove into chilly water to retrieve a cross in an annual rite that draws thousands.

John Hittos found the cross before 64 other boys after it was thrown into a bayou in Tarpon Springs, a town on the Gulf Coast 30 miles north of Tampa and known for its large Greek community. The retriever of the cross is believed to receive a year of blessings. It is one of the largest Epiphany celebrations in the country.

“I didn’t see where the cross went in the water,” Hittos told reporters after emerging from the 65-degree (18-degree Celsius) water. “I didn’t know where it was, but I had a feeling and I just went down. I couldn’t see anything, but it was in my hand.”

The Epiphany commemorates the manifestation of Jesus to the world and comes from the Greek word “epiphaneia,” which means “appearance.” It is marked by Christians around the world with celebrations ranging from parades and gift-giving for children to the blessing of water. The holiday is also called the Feast of Epiphany, Three Kings Day and Theophany. In some traditions, it celebrates the baptism of Jesus and in others the visit of the Three Magi to the Baby Jesus.

The boys were led to the water from St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral by clergy and a nervous 17-year-old Chloe Kotis, who carried a white dove representing the Holy Spirit, She released it over the water before the dive.

“I’m happy to hold something that means so much,” she told the Tampa Bay Times.

Many Greek immigrants were drawn to Tarpon Springs because the waters were flush with sponges, and they quickly built a thriving industry. Others established restaurants, pastry shops and markets that offer a Mediterranean feel.

United States News

Associated Press

Ford recalls over 550,000 pickup trucks because transmissions can suddenly downshift to 1st gear

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 550,000 pickup trucks in the U.S. because the transmissions can unexpectedly downshift to first gear no matter how fast the trucks are going. The recall covers certain F-150 pickups from the 2014 model year. Ford’s F-Series pickups are the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. Ford says in […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Wildfire prompts evacuation orders for rural community in northern California

PALERMO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities in rural northern California have ordered evacuations due to a fast-moving fire threatening the community of Palermo, which is near where the state’s deadliest wildfire struck six years ago. The fire covered about 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers) in the initial hours Monday after the flames were first reported, […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Former pro surfer known for riding huge Pipeline waves dies in shark attack while surfing off Oahu

A well-known Hawaii lifeguard who was killed in a shark attack while surfing off Oahu’s North Shore was a former professional surfer with acting credits to his name, including a role in one of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Tamayo Perry, 49, was killed Sunday near Goat Island, Shayne Enright of the Honolulu Emergency […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

More rain possible in deluged Midwest as flooding kills 2, causes water to surge around dam

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (AP) — More storms are possible in parts of the deluged Midwest, where flooding after days of heavy rains has killed at least two people, sent a river surging around a dam and forced evacuations and rescues. Severe storms were forecast for Tuesday afternoon and evening with large hail, damaging winds […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Lawsuit challenges new Louisiana law requiring classrooms to display the Ten Commandments

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit Monday to block Louisiana’s new law that requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed in every public school classroom, a measure they contend is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs in the suit include parents of Louisiana public school children with various religious backgrounds, who are represented by […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

A look at Julian Assange and how the long-jailed WikiLeaks founder is now on the verge of freedom

WASHINGTON (AP) — News that the U.S. Justice Department has reached a plea deal that will lead to freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brings a stunning culmination to a long-running saga of international intrigue that spanned multiple continents. Its central character is a quixotic internet publisher with a profound disdain for government secrets. A […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Florida’s Greek community celebrates the Epiphany with annual dive into water to retrieve cross