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'It's very emotional'

Spiritual cross-diving tradition continues at DeLeon Springs

By Seth Robbins

DELEON SPRINGS — The three teenage boys knelt before the Rev. Joseph Samaan at the edge of a wading pool at DeLeon Springs.

“Bless these young men who are about to dive for the cross,” said Samaan, the priest at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Daytona Beach.

He then blessed the water and hurled the cross. Steano Paspalakis, 15, plunged in after it.

About 30 years ago, Paspalakis' grandfather, Lambros Papalambros, saw the springs' green waters as an idyllic place to hold the Greek Orthodox tradition in which teenage boys swim after a cross.

Paspalakis said that since he was a “little kid,” he had wanted to be part of the ceremony, which takes place on


Steano Paspalakis, 15, gets an emotional embrace Saturday from his grandfather Lambros Papalambros after retrieving the cross at DeLeon Springs State Park during St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church's traditional Diving for the Cross ceremony to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. NEWS-JOURNAL/NIGEL COOK

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