RIDGELAND, MS (WLBT) – Local Orthodox Christians gathered for the Blessing of the Waters Sunday at the reservoir.
Four area congregations took part in the annual Epiphany Celebration.
During services a cross is tossed into the water as a reminder of Christ's baptism in the Jordan River.
Traditionally someone dives in the reservoir at Old Trace Park to retrieve the cross, but with this year's freezing temperatures no one had volunteered.
The string tied to the cross broke when it was thrown in and as it floated Zolia Fabin, originally from Romania, decided to enter the freezing waters.
The air temperature was 35 degrees when he went entered the water around 4:30 Sunday afternoon.
Ice could still be seen on the spillway bridges.
The Pearl resident had a simple reason for taking the plunge.
"I'm orthodox. That's why you decided to do this? Yes. What did it feel like? I feel good now. A little bit cold," said Fabin.
"The water was so cold I wasn't sure but you know what? Again one of my parishioners rose to the occasion and dived right in. You could almost see icebergs out there, but he still did it," said Father Chris Harner of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Jackson.
The carpenter took his time walking out of the waist deep water holding the cross above his head to loud cheers.
His broad smile could be seen by all on shore.
While shivering in a dry sweater, soaking wet jeans and an overcoat, Fabin received a blessing of many years from Father Paul Yerger of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Clinton.
Communion and a feast followed the waterside service.
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