Florida Folklife Program

Folk Heritage Awards Recipient: George Saroukos


George Saroukos, . .
George Saroukos

George Saroukos - 2009 Florida Folk Heritage Award

George Saroukos is the only remaining builder of traditional Greek sponge diving boats in the Western Hemisphere. During the first half of the 20th century, many sponge boats were built by Greek Americans living in Florida, from Tarpon Springs to Apalachicola. Saroukos is the third generation of his family to master Greek sponge boat building. His father and grandfather were celebrated boat builders from the island of Kalymnos, the Dodecanese island from which most of the Greek American residents of Tarpon Springs trace their roots. Saroukos continues the tradition of making some of his own tools, and, without using any printed plans, building fine boats.