Many of the boats in Sunday’s 34th Blessing of the Fleet circled back around for a double blessing.
“This has been a hard year for the people,” said Mayor Chipper McDermott. The weather was so bad at last year’s event the boats didn’t leave the harbor and the clergy blessed the crews from the docks.
This year the fleet of about 35 went out under clear blue skies but with a sense of caution. McDermott said if any oil from the sunken drilling platform in the Gulf reaches the Coast just as the shrimp season begins, “It would devastate it.”
A wreath to remember those lost at sea was tossed into the bay by retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Baxter Jones and it bobbed in the water as the colorfully-decorated boats passed.
“You can’t get any more Americana than this,” said Nan Mueller, as the crews and their families waved from their boats. McDermott said when he was growing up in Pass Christian, the fishermen were French and English. Now they speak Spanish, French, English and Vietnamese — “as cosmopolitan as you can get.”
Four ministers blessed each craft and crew as they neared the blessing boat, Show Down. It was the first time for the Rev. Peter Varghese, associate priest at Holy Family Catholic Church in Long Beach, and the 14th Blessing of the Fleet for the Rev. Bartholomew Endslow, pastor of Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Pass Christian. He is 89 and said this could be his last year for the event.