Boaters, Shrimpers Venture Out To Sea For Blessing

There were more boats than usual dotting the Pass Christian shoreline Sunday, but all these boaters wanted to catch, was a blessing.

It was the 27th Annual Blessing of the Fleet in Pass Christian, an event that has become part of the city's history and a tradition for shrimpers as they gear up for each year's shrimping season.

It looked like a patriotic parade as more than two dozen boats ventured out into the waters of Pass Christian for the special blessing.

"Commercial boats and the pleasure boats are blessed before shrimp season opens up, so they'll have a good prosperous year," said Joseph Piernas, a local politician who was at the blessing.

"The priests come out and bless the boats so they'll have a bountiful harvest and for their protection as they go out to work their boats," said Glover Hayden, Pass Christian's Interim Harbor Master. "It's a very dangerous job, and many people don't know that."

Those who took part also paid tribute to fishermen of days past.

"A wreath is dedicated to all the sailors, whether they be in the service or they be civilian, if they were lost at sea," said Baxter Jones, who dropped the wreath in the Mississippi Sound.

For 27 years shrimpers and boaters have celebrated the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Pass Christian. This is a ceremony that spans centuries and even oceans Baxter Jones said, "It is a tradition that came over from the Mediterranean area years ago when an awful lot of people came over here to make a living in the shrimp world."

Politicians and priests were among those on board for this year's blessing, and members of the armed forces were also in tow, some judging the boat decorating competition. They came from different walks of life, but all shared the same prayer, that is, for a safe--and prosperous--shrimping season here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Event coordinators say this year's event was about the same in size as last year. Biloxi will be having its Annual Blessing of the Fleet next weekend. It will be on Saturday and Sunday, with the parade of boats on Sunday at 1 p.m. You can catch a great view for that part of the event at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.