Tarpon Springs – Greek Heritage

Tarpon Springs is a small city in Central Florida on the Gulf coast. It has the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the United States.

The city grew up, at the end of the nineteenth century, around the sponge industry when fishermen from Key West and the Bahamas began to hook and process them. In the early twentieth century the sponge diving technique was introduced and Greek divers and crews began to arrive. Today there is still an active sponge industry but it secondary to tourism. Tourists can learn about the sponge industry and the area’s Greek heritage.

Each year, in January, the Epiphany is celebrated. Greek Americans from around the country flock to the ceremony which ends when an Orthodox bishop throws a cross into the spring bayou. High school seniors dive to retrieve it. The boy who finds the cross is said to receive a special blessing for the year.

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