Tarpon Springs is located on the southern border of Florida, approximately a four-hour drive from Miami. This city was established at the end of the XIX century by Greeks and to this day, the highest percentage of Greeks live here out of all the cities of America. The local residences note that the climate here is very similar to Greece.
Tarpon Springs is well known for the citywide celebration dedicated to the Theophany (also known as Epiphany), which is the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord and the divine manifestation of the Holy Trinity. This celebration occurs on January 6 and concludes the 12-day period of the Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas). Every year on this day Greeks arrive from across the country tripling the population of the city. It is worth mentioning that Orthodox Christians of other ethnicities usually attend this celebration, in particular, Serbs, Romanians, Albanians, and Syrians, as well as many Russian-speaking people.
In 2020, the Theophany celebration reached its 114-year anniversary in Tarpon Springs. The celebration began with the Divine Liturgy in the Greek Archdiocesan Cathedral of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. Archbishop Elpidophoros of America presided concelebrating with four bishops and Archdiocesan clergy as well as clerics of the Orthodox Church in America, the Antiochian Church, and other canonical Orthodox jurisdictions of America.
With the blessing of Archbishop Elpidophoros Archimandrite Alexander Belya, Vicar of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate and Rector of the St. Matrona of Moscow Cathedral in Miami, participated in the celebration. His Eminence was very glad to see Father Alexander and greeted him warmly. The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also attended the service.
After the Divine Liturgy the clergy, accompanied by attendants, led a procession to the bay where the Theophany celebration continued. The Greek tradition of tossing of a cross in a water to be retrieved by divers from among the faithful attending it followed. More than five thousand people participated in this year’s celebration.
There was an exceptionally joyful atmosphere which demonstrated a unity of different ethnic jurisdictions living in Florida as one large Orthodox Christian family.