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    Few 'Greek bombs' disturb Easter fests

    Police say a teen was arrested and a few of the devices went off, but Tarpon Springs was relatively quiet.

    By KATHERINE GAZELLA

    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 17, 2001


    TARPON SPRINGS -- Fewer homemade bombs exploded over the weekend than in previous Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations, police said Monday.

    Every year, some people in the city make and set off so-called "Greek bombs" as part of their Easter activities. A few bombs went off this year and a teenager was arrested, but in general, it was a relatively quiet year, police Chief Mark LeCouris said.

    "It was probably one of our best years," he said. Mostly, he said, "the ones that went off were in isolated places."

    Police arrested a 15-year-old Tarpon Springs youth for setting off a bomb at 12:04 Sunday morning in the courtyard at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Sgt. Michael Trill said. An officer saw the teenager set off the hand-sized bomb, and eight other bombs were found on him after he was arrested, Trill said.

    The juvenile was charged with making, possessing, throwing or discharging a destructive device, a third-degree felony. He was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

    Police also are referring the charges in another case to the State Attorney's Office, Trill said. He said a man whose name was not available Monday set off a bomb at Athens and Cross streets at 2:29 a.m. Trill did not have any more information about the case.

    In all, Trill said, he heard about six bombs early Sunday morning, far fewer than in previous years. He said there were no injuries, and the bombs caused no property damage.

    Two others were arrested for disorderly conduct early Sunday morning, but the charges were unrelated to bombs, police said.

    Kaliope Boulafentis, 38, of Tarpon Springs was arrested after she screamed at several people on Athens and Maragos streets about 4:40 a.m. Michael Emmanuel Mougros, 20, of Holiday was arrested at 4:08 a.m. for swearing and taking a "defensive fighting stance" when he saw officers, causing a crowd to gather, police said.

    Traditionally in Tarpon Springs, after the midnight announcement that Christ has risen, people go into the streets and celebrate the start of Orthodox Easter early Sunday morning. Some people set off fireworks, but a smaller group of people explode the bombs, a tradition carried over from some Greek islands.

    Greek bombs are made of cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls, gunpowder, yarn and other materials. In past years, some bombs have contained nails.

    Bombs damaged 13 windows in the Sponge Docks business district last year, police said. Two young men were arrested for discharging destructive devices, and their cases are still pending, according to court records.

    LeCouris attributed the improvement to police efforts, statements by church officials and a general effort in the Greek community to discourage the bombs.

    Police and the Rev. Tryfon Theophilopoulos of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral told people that anyone spotted setting off a bomb would face third-degree felony charges.

    "The Greek community takes a role in this being such a good year," LeCouris said. "Even the kids kind of took it upon themselves to step back and say (what happened) last year didn't help anyone."

    - Staff writer Katherine Gazella can be reached at (727) 445-4182 or gazella@sptimes.com.

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