Tarpon Springs, Florida

It’s all Greek to me! Traditions run deep in Tarpon Springs.

North of Tampa Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Anclote River marks the end of the Florida Gulf Intracoastal Waterway Mile 150 and the entrance, upriver, to the city of Tarpon Springs, a true gem for visitors arriving by land or sea.

This quaint and picturesque community carries a history steeped in Greek culture, heritage, and religion, the stories of which are displayed throughout the town on murals and carried on through traditions that are sure to make an impression. It makes sense; Tarpon Springs boasts (by percentage) the largest population of Greek Americans anywhere in the U.S.


Permanently enriched by the Mediterranean heritage brought by the sponge divers and their families who arrived at the turn of the 20th century, the Hellenic influence remains strong in Tarpon Springs to this day. George Billiris was a prominent citizen and personification of the history and culture of Tarpon Springs present and past.

Greece had a thriving sponge industry and the only sponge divers in the world, and around 1900, his grandfather emigrated from Greece to develop and work in the sponge industry in Tarpon Springs, where an abundance of sponges was found, which led to migration. In 1940, George was 14 years old and joined the family tradition of diving for sponges. Right up until his death in 2016 at age 89, he was operating a sponge business from a small office along the city’s sponge docks. George’s son now runs the business and carries on the family customs.