The 2006 Patriarchal Epiphany Centennial Celebration Mixes Greek History and Culture With Inspiration and Fun

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ — Known as “Epiphany City,” Tarpon Springs, FL is home to the oldest and largest Epiphany celebration in the United States. Observing its 100th year, the 2006 Epiphany Celebration will feature all the Old World Greek traditions as well as many significant additions, including an unprecedented visit by His All Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and the spiritual leader of worldwide Orthodoxy.

Steeped in Greek heritage and tradition, Tarpon Springs celebrates the Orthodox Epiphany, the Baptism of Jesus Christ, much like they do in the ancient port of Athens called Piraeus. The city is transformed into a bustling Mediterranean seaport where the aroma of authentic Greek food and live Greek music fill the air. The 2006 Patriarchal Epiphany Centennial Celebration will be held from Thursday, January 5 through Sunday, January 8. Traditional Epiphany activities will include the following:

The Blessing of the Fleet (Thursday, January 5 – 11:00 am – Noon): The tradition of this event dates back to Ancient times when clergy would bless fishermen, their vessels and the water in which they travel, and wish them safe and prosperous voyages. The special ceremony in Tarpon Springs will take place on the Anclote River, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. Both commercial fishermen and recreational boaters will participate.

Diving for the Cross (Friday, January 6 – 12:30 pm): Believed to be the biggest in the nation, the Tarpon Springs Diving for the Cross ritual is held at Spring Bayou, just blocks away from St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Approximately 40 – 50 Greek-American males, ages 16 – 18, will endure the chilly waters as they vie to be the first one to capture the coveted cross. The youth who retrieves it receives a special blessing, gold cross necklace and prestigious trophy.

The Epiphany Glendi (Friday, January 6 – following the Diving for the Cross until midnight; Saturday, January 7 – noon to midnight): The two-day Epiphany Glendi or “happy party” will transport all who attend into an authentic and exhilarating Greek street party. Held at the Sponge Docks, the Epiphany Glendi will offer everything Greek, from the food and live music to the festive dancing. Over 300 Greek dancers, from throughout the United States and Canada, will perform throughout the Epiphany Glendi. The entire area of the Sponge Docks will be blocked off from traffic for this celebration, allowing visitors to freely enjoy the shops and restaurants that line the docks.

In addition to the traditional events surrounding the Epiphany, Greek’s singing sensation Mario Frangoulis will be performing at the Sun Dome in Tampa, FL on Saturday, January 7 at 7:00 pm. For a complete schedule of events for the 2006 Patriarchal Epiphany Centennial Celebration, visit http://www.epiphany100.com/scheduleofevents .

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