Boats blessed at 84th Annual Blessing of the Fleet

Shrimp Queen and Shrimp King.
Shrimp Queen and Shrimp King.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The wreath was dropped and right behind it was a line of 61 boats, dressed and ready to be blessed.

"It's a privilege to connect to the richness of the history and tradition of the people," said Father Greg Barras.

One by one, the decorated boats awaited their turn to be blessed by Father Greg.

The Blessing of the Fleet started in 1929. Eighty-four years later, it's still going strong.

This was Father Greg's eighth year to be at the bow of the boat, with the holy water.

"The intention is that first of all, safety of the boats that go out to harvest the bounty of the sea," said Father Greg. "The second part is the hope. Each boat harvests a bountiful amount of seafood to bring back to support their families to support the local economy."

By his side was Shrimp King Richard Gollott and Queen Laura Weems.

"It's an honor. It's great," said Gollott. "Well, remembering the fishermen. I've had a lot of friends that have died in the industry and passed on and I just remember it's a solemn occasion. Blessing the boats for God to give them bountiful catches and good weather and keep them safe."

"It's an amazing feeling and truly a blessing to be able to represent the Biloxi shrimping industry as their queen," said Weems.

Weems is 17-years-old and her family has a long history on the water.

By her side was Richard Gollott, a man everyone said could not be more deserving of shrimp royalty.

"I think he's a great man. Works really hard at his job. I think he deserves this honor," said Gollot's 10-year-old grandson Grant Gollott.

"Richard Gollott has a longstanding history of commitment and dedication to the seafood industry," said Father Greg. "His love, his care has reached out to many others to get them working on the waters."

Side by side, with the sun beating down, the three recognized the importance of the symbolic day.

"People coming out to remember and celebrate their heritage and value not only the environment, but value family and tradition," said Father Greg.

With colorful boats and clear skies, many hoped the perfection of the day signified what would come for shrimp season 2013.

The decorative boat that received first place in the competition was, "Richard and Melonie"

Second place boat was "Captain Justin."

The boat that received the participation award was, "Da Boat."

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