TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. -- The Epiphany celebration is back.

And for it's 116th edition on Spring Bayou, Tarpon Springs is welcoming back full crowds.

Last year's celebration took place but was muted due to COVID concerns.

The annual Tarpon Springs event traditionally draws more than 20,000 spectators. Considered the largest Epiphany celebration in the Western Hemisphere, the event commemorates Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan.

On this episode of To The Point Already, Rick Elmhorst and Roy De Jesus talk with Tarpon Springs mayor Chris Alahouzos and residents Anestis Karistinos, his cousin Nioti Koulianos and Pantelis "Pete" Kontodiaksos, all whom retrieved the cross when they were younger.

"It's the biggest celebration we have in Tarpon Springs," said Alahouzos. "It's a joint effort by the city and the Greek community and this year we expect to have a very large celebration."

And the multi-day celebration, put on by the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, also will feature a Blessing of the Fleet Wednesday, a divine liturgy on Thursday morning and a procession to Spring Bayou.

The event, highlighted by the cross throwing, is a deeply-rooted family tradition in the community.

Kondoliakos retrieved the cross in 2009. His father and multiple uncles all retrieved the cross as well.

"Growing up in Tarpon Springs as a young boy, you just wait until you're old enough to retrieve the cross," Kondoliakos said.

Karistinos and Koulianos had similar experiences, adding that as wonderful as the pageantry of the event is, the religious element also is important.

"More than anything, it's a religious event and that's the way we were raised with it," said Koulianos, adding that friends and brothers and cousins would prep for the event as young boys by diving for items in water, pools and at the beach years ahead of time.

"It's a very important religious day and it's a blessing just to be able to dive. Catching it is extra. Just to get in that water and be there with your brothers and your friends….we're blessed and that is the way we look at it."


Spectrum Bay News 9 Anchor Rick Elmhorst sits down with the people that represent you, the people fighting for change and the people with fascinating stories to ask the hard questions.

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