Asbury Park, NJ – Thousands of Greek Orthodox members (from NJ, PA, NY, DE) came out Sunday to witness the annual Blessing of the Waters at the rustic and historic seaside town of Asbury Park. With a graceful toss of the cross by Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, into the Atlantic, the young charged ahead in hopes of retrieving a wooden cross.

Beaming family members and friends looked on and cheered as the Greek Orthodox youth carried on this tradition that began more 65 years ago. A procession including all of the Greek Orthodox clergy in New Jersey, altar boys and young people from throughout the state, to the shore just south of Convention Hall was their destination. Under perfect blue skies, the flock circled around the participants while others looked on from the jetty of rocks.

Some 20 parishes participated in the historic annual event that grouped 4 divisions of it’s faithful. One fortunate member of each group raised the cross, victorious as they marched back to Metropolitan Evangelos to receive his blessings and a Cross, which he placed on each of them.

The day had started with a Divine Liturgy service and short Memorial Service for the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras at the Paramount Theater and Convention center.

Elena Iliadis (junior girls) of St. Thomas in Cherry Hill, NJ, Nicholas Koutsoumbi (junior boys) of St. George in Piscataway, NJ, Calliope Yiannos (senior girls) of Holy Trinity in Egg Harbor, NJ, and Michael Simon (senior boys), of Kimisis Tis Theotokou of Holmdel, NJ.