Epiphany cross retriever reflects on past year

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, January 05, 2017, 5:14 AM EST

Anderson Combs, 18, believes God chose him to retrieve the Epiphany cross from the bottom of Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs last January.

  • Greek Orthodox Church to host annual Epiphany celebration
  • Last year Anderson Combs, 18, retrieved the cross
  • He believes the symbolic object brought a year of blessings

“I’ve felt that I have nothing but blessings that I’ve received this year,” Combs said. “I got into the school of my choice, Saint Leo University.”

Combs was one of 52 teenage boys participating in the annual tradition that St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church calls the largest Epiphany celebration in the Western Hemisphere.

Combs said he feels like a role model, and retrieving the cross has strengthened his faith.

“I caught myself going to church a lot more," he said. "I’ve also caught myself volunteering a lot more time to the church. I’m definitely being recognized a lot more. I see myself as a public figure. So, that kind of changes my mentality as a person.”

Combs said everyone who dives for the cross is blessed, and believes his background in swimming is another reason he was chosen.

“I feel I was chosen. I’ve always been around the water,” he said. “God has placed me in those positions to have almost an advantage of retrieving the cross.”

On Friday, the Epiphany tradition will continue with the casting of the cross scheduled for 1 p.m. at Spring Bayou, located at Tarpon Avenue and Spring Boulevard.