Sunday's less than ideal weather forced the Pass Christian Blessing of the Fleet to stay close to shore this year, but this shrimpers' tradition otherwise stayed right on course. More than 30 shrimp boats in the Pass Christian Harbor were blessed for the upcoming shrimp season Sunday afternoon. This year, the priests traveled on foot to give the blessings.
The Blessing of the Fleet is usually done out at sea, but Sunday's high winds and choppy waters kept the boats docked for this year's ceremony. Each year, dozens of boats take part in the Blessing of the Fleet. The shrimpers who take part are hoping for a bountiful harvest and safety on the waters.
"We're all Catholic. We really believe that helps us, so that's the main reason we do it. But it's also a really big family tradition and celebration," said third-generation shirmper Bill Bradley.
The Bradleys have been shrimping for four generations in Pass Christian. They couldn't wait to have their boat blessed Sunday afternoon. Afterall, they know how dangerous their occupation can be out at sea and have had a few close calls.
"I hate to tell this on myself, but one of my crew dropped my net on me, and kicked me over where it was loaded with catfish, and he kicked me overboard," said second-generation shrimper Earnest Bradley.
Shortly after the incident, he managed to get back on board with only minor injuries. Earnest credits these blessings for keeping him and other shrimpers safe and prosperous. This tradition and good fortune is something he hopes to pass down for generations to come.
Near the end of the ceremony, a wreath was tossed into the water in memory of all of those who have lost their lives at sea.