A giant cross washed ashore near a Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel over the weekend, spawning curiosity among beachgoers and employees as to how it arrived in South Florida.
The curious sight caused confusion and disbelief after it was first spotted on the beach behind the Ocean Manor Beach Resort Hotel, Saturday evening.
“We just found this washed up on the beach,” said a man as he recorded cellphone video of the massive find.
“I couldn’t believe that it was washing up on our feet right in front of us,” said Greg Gay, who was there visiting from Michigan.
Sighting the holy symbol was enough to turn this tourist into a believer.
“I felt really heavenly about it,” said Gay. “It was a moment in time. Had we been 10 minutes before or 10 minutes later, we wouldn’t have seen it.”
Many at Ocean Manor’s Tiki bar were taken aback to see a cross crashing in the waves.
“I said, ‘You’re kidding me.’ I go, ‘Seriously? I thought you’re joking,’” said Frank Talerico, the hotel’s owner.
The painted wooden cross has been stopping traffic in the sand ever since it was first spotted.
Another cellphone video shows several people trying to lift the heavy, barnacle-encrusted discovery.
Onlooker John Moschella said there were several theories floating around as to where it may have come from.
“People have suggested possibly Puerto Rico. Others have said the Keys,” he said. “It’s really unknown where it has come from.”
“I had goosebumps. I was astonished,” said Talerico.
The hotel owner said he considers the cross a sign of protection. One could call it a coincidence or divine intervention, but he said his sister had been praying at the property Saturday morning because she was scared by a bad dream.
“She’s like, ‘You know what? It’s not that big of deal. I just had a bad dream and a bad feeling, so I wanted to come here and pray,’” he said. “I said, ‘OK, thanks for doing that.”
Hours later, the cross made its arrival.
It may never be known where it came from, but Gay said it’s certainly made him do some soul searching.
When asked if he’s a regular churchgoer, he replied, “No, as a matter of fact, we’re not, so that’s why somebody said, ‘It’s a sign, Greg.’ It means a lot to us, though. Something like that only happens once in a lifetime.”
Talerico said the cross is not going anywhere anytime soon.
“You know what? I’m glad it’s here,” he said. “It’s staying here, and if anybody wants to come see it or take a picture with it, they’re more than welcome.”
Talerico said it took about seven people and two all-terrain vehicles to drag the cross from the shore.