Peter Greenberg traveled to Tarpon Springs to meet George Billiris, who is locally known as The Godfather. He’s a third generation sponge farmer.
His family originally came to Tarpon Springs in 1905 and help build the local sponge industry. His family was later asked by the state to represent Tarpon Springs at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933.
Thanks to the sponge industry, Tarpon Springs is still thriving today.
Collecting sponges is a 2,500 year-old business that began in the Mediterranean. Sponges are technically an animal, and they’re used for cleaning, crafts, and medicine.
Tarpon Springs now has a large Greek community with family-run businesses that have been passed down for generations. There are 125 gift shops, 25 restaurants, as well as bakeries and boat ride companies.
Watch the video below to see Peter Greenberg learn more about the Greek community near St. Petersburg Clearwater, Florida.