A mad scramble in the North Wollongong rock pool has won Tony Dulevski a lifetime of good luck - so the legend goes.
Hundreds of members of the Illawarra's Macedonian Orthodox community gathered on Sunday for their Vodici celebration, held each year on January 19.
The annual event is one of the most important events on the religious calendar, with a march from the Stewart Street church to Belmore Basin for the traditional cross-throwing event.
That was the plan, before a sewage leak forced Wollongong City Council to close the harbour beach on Friday afternoon.
Instead, the procession wound its way down Harbour Street and along Cliff Road, before coming to the tidal pools near North Wollongong Beach.
Police accompanied the group through town, with crowds lining the footpaths to watch the long procession of churchgoers with their flags, robes and framed pictures of religious icons auctioned off during the preceding church ceremony.
Families were no doubt startled as several hundred Macedonians appeared on their previously quiet spot to watch as the priest first blessed the water then threw the cross into the choppy rock pool.
A scrum of young men dived into the water after it. Macedonian tradition holds that the one to retrieve the cross will be blessed with a lifetime of good luck, and it was Tony Dulevski who emerged from the seawater holding the prize aloft.
"I wasn't going to do it, but my mate called me and asked me to go in. I'm glad I did," he said.