TARPON SPRINGS, FL – The thousands who gathered at Spring Bayou of the heavily Greek-populated City of Tarpon Springs for the 108th annual blessing of the waters wore winter clothing this year, but their spirit was not dampened by the weather.
Some 20,000 to 30,000 people were expected once again, but the Polar Vortex that has put much of America into a deep freeze prompted many to mark the Feast of the Epiphany indoors.
Those who did attend were inspired and felt blessed and although there were visibly les people than usual at the bayou, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas was jammed with people.
“I have lived in Florida for 27 years and it has never been this cold, with cloudy skies and continuous rain,” Tampa resident Mariza Hiotaki told TNH.
Nevertheless, Archbishop Demetrios blessed the seas by tossing the Holy Cross into the small bay, and it was caught within 15 seconds by 18 year-old Peter Sotirios Smith from Ellenton, which is near Sarasota and is home to the Church of St. Barbara.
The water was a Florida-brisk 62 degrees and attracted 43 boys between the ages of 16 and 18.
“It was a blessed day for me and now I will have God’s special blessing,” for the year Smith said. “I dived from the cross last year too, but I accomplished it this year and I thank God,” he said.