Sponge Capital of the World  LbNA # 29018 (ARCHIVED)

OwnerWee Walkers    
Placed DateFeb 25 2007
LocationTarpon Springs, FL
Last Found Jun 13 2009
Hike Distance?

The city of Tarpon Springs is named for the tarpon, a fish that is found in abundance off the coast. Many Greek immigrants came here after 1905 to continue their traditional trade of sponge diving. Tarpon Springs is known as "the sponge capital of the world". All aspects of the sponge industry take place in Tarpon Springs, from the harvesting of the sponge, all the way to the auctions that are held weekly at the Sponge Docks for the wholesalers.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral (36 N Pinellas Avenue, is one of the most spectacular Orthodox churches in the world. St. Nicholas is home to the largest Epiphany celebration in the United States. Each year on January 6th, local schools close, so students can join their families and over 25,000 others for this daylong Greek Orthodox event. The celebration begins with a morning service. This is followed by the release of a white dove of peace. Next is a mesmerizing ritual dive into the Spring Bayou by fifty local young men between ages 16 and 18 to retrieve a wooden cross. The young man who finds the cross is carried back to the church in a procession, where a short service is held to bless the diver. Greek-American male youths have braved the chilly January waters of Spring Bayou since 1920, in hopes of capturing the coveted Epiphany Cross. The rest of the day is set aside for Greek foods, music, and dancing.

This LB pays homage to the sponge insustry (the carved image) and the Epiphany (location of the box).

####Not needed for finding box but interesting#####
Visit the Unitarian Universalist Church (57 Read Street) home to the largest single collection of famous American landscape artist, George Inness, Jr. paintings. Both George Inness and George Inness Jr. were winter visitors in Tarpon Springs in the early 1900’s. The eleven large religious paintings were completed from 1897 through 1926.

After viewing the paintings head to the Safford House (Parkin Court) a lovely example of late 19th century Florida architecture complete with furnishings authentic to the period.

A few blocks to the north, just off Grand Boulevard is the intriguing St Michael’s Shrine (113 Hope Street). Just as in St. Nicholas Cathedral, you can light a candle 24 hours a day in this small sanctuary. A local Greek family erected it in the 1940’s as thanks for their son’s miraculous cure. St. Michael the Archangel is known as the great heavenly physician.

Make your way West on Read Street towards the bayou. At the corner of Read and Canal St. is the "Glorious Church". Stand facing the church and three feet from the steps on the right behind a small pepper tree you will find what you seek.

Continue onto Spring Blvd. or head back the way you came. The blvd. runs along Spring Bayou the site of the Epiphany diving. Many historic homes have been restored along the Bayou including the home of George Inness. Manatee can often be seen in the waters of the bayou. When you reach Orange Street you can head East and stop in at the Greek Orthodox Church, St Nicholas.

For pictures and more information about the Epiphany Celebration in Tarpon Springs visit:

This area is so rich with culture and attractions it begs for another box. Anyone out there????