A pair of Palm Harbor University High (PHUH) students played a big role in the 2013 Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs.
Sophomore Evelyn Bilirakis, 15, served as dove bearer. Her cousin, Teddy Bilirakis, 18, who is a senior at PHUH, was one of the 48 cross divers.
The teens spoke to Patch at a family gathering after Sunday's Epiphany ceremony.
"It was a such a blessing for not only me but Teddy. He dived and I held the dove. It was an honor and such a true blessing for my family," said Evelyn.
Evelyn had to hold the dove in her hand while standing outside the cathedral Sunday morning while the service was wrapping up. The dove was a bit squirmy.
"It was scary at first. He was a little wiggly. But he started calming down," said Evelyn.
If you're wondering what happens to the dove after it is released, Evelyn says it's a homing dove and was trained to return to its home.
Evelyn is not the first member of her family to carry the dove during Epiphany. Her grandmother, Evelyn, was dove bearer in 1957.
Young Evelyn is the daughter of Emmanuel and Maria Bilirakis.
This was Teddy Bilirakis' last year participating as a cross diver. He's participated the two previous Epiphany celebrations in addition to 2013. He says boys are only allowed to dive for the cross when they're ages 16, 17 and 18.
Teddy says this year's dive was fun.
"It was just a great experience. It was great to be a part of it, such a blessing," he said.
As an experienced cross diver, Teddy has a few words of advice for his successors.
"Soak up the experience. You can only do it three times in your life and it's a really wonderful experience. Soak it all in."
Teddy is the son of U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis and his wife Eva.
- Epiphany 2013 Photos: Pride and Tradition
- Photo Gallery: Epiphany 2013 Dive for the Cross
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