An 18-year-old from Tarpon Springs is counting his blessings after retrieving the cross at this year's Epiphany Celebration.
"This means the world to me," said cross-retriever Konstantino Pseftelis. "I've been wanting this since I was a child."
About 50 teenage boys dove for the cross in the Spring Bayou for the 109th Epiphany Tuesday, but it took less than a minute for Pseftelis to grab hold of the coveted treasure.
"I jumped in," said Pseftelis. "I saw it floating."
Pseftelis is a student at St. Petersburg College. He is studying architecture.
His family said they hope the cross will bring him blessings as he pursues his dreams.
The annual Epiphany observance represents the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.
Some 20,000 people gathered at Spring Bayou to watch the young men dive for the cross.
Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, presided over the dive.
A church service took place this morning at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. At noon, a procession of the 50 young men, ages 16 to 18, headed to the bayou for the traditional dive, which happened at 1 p.m.
"Our divers grow up in their homes talking about family members or themselves who’ve retrieved the cross, who have been dove bearers in the past," said Johanna Kossifidis, the co-chair of the Epiphany celebration. "We pass the torch along with them and talk about those traditions."
This year, the St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral presented the Tarpon Springs Police Department with a plaque in remembrance of police officer Charles Kondek, who was recently shot and killed in Tarpon Springs.
There was also a moment of silence before the dive.
Monday featured the traditional blessing of the fleet. Clergy walked the sponge docks, blessed the fisherman, their boats and the water on which they travel.