Many Greek expats and Greek immigrants will say that Greece is always with them. They keep it close in their hearts, in their summer memories, their family meals and Sunday churches. If you find yourself in Tarpon Springs, Florida, however, you will see that Greece is literally everywhere around you. And so is the Greek language…
The story of the Greek Island of Florida
Tarpon Springs, also known as the Greek village, or the Greek Island of Florida, has the highest percentage of people of Greek ancestry in the US. From the people of Greek ancestry in Tarpon Springs almost 10% speak Greek at home, a huge number considering that these are mostly people whose parents or even grandparents were born in the US.
The first Greek people arrived in Tarpon Springs in the 1880s to work in sea sponge aquaculture. They came mostly from Dodekanisa, like Rhodes and Halki and soon became very successful businessmen. But even in its more recent history, Tarpon Springs has proven its intense Greek character with its Greek mayor.
The heart of the Greek community of Tarpon Springs beats around the church of Saint Nicholas, while one of the biggest Greek events of the town is the Epiphany on the 6th of January, when Greeks from all over the States visit the town to witness the religious tradition of “blessing the waters.”
Greece is wherever Greeks are
The town’s location next to water, the Greek-looking boats, the Greek-styled shops and restaurants, the Greek names around you and the warm climate of course, easily give you the impression that you are on a Greek island instead of an American town in Florida. This is thanks to the Greek people of Tarpon Springs who thrived and turned this beautiful town into one of the most important Greek communities outside Greece.
It is without doubt a place worth visiting…