86th annual Blessing of the Fleet draws 35 working boats for cer - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

86th annual Blessing of the Fleet draws 35 working boats for ceremony

A woman prepares for her pleasure boat to be blessed by the Rev. Gregory Barras. (Photo Source: WLOX) A woman prepares for her pleasure boat to be blessed by the Rev. Gregory Barras. (Photo Source: WLOX)
The Rev. Gregory Barras blesses a fishing vessel at the 86th annual Blessing of the Fleet in Biloxi. (Photo Source: WLOX) The Rev. Gregory Barras blesses a fishing vessel at the 86th annual Blessing of the Fleet in Biloxi. (Photo Source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

The dropping of the wreath to remember those fishermen who have died may be a somber start to the 86th annual Blessing of the Fleet in Biloxi, but there's always a party on the water right around the corner.

The opening of shrimp season kept the number of working boats down some this year, said organizers, but shrimp boats made up about half of the 72 participating vessels.

The Pan American Clipper escorted this year's king, David Luke, and queen, Maria Skrmetti, along with the Rev. Gregory Barras and plenty of family, friends and dignitaries.

During the ceremony, three boats were honored by the judges. First place went to the boat Captain Danny, second place went to The Barbara Kay and the participation award went to The Amber Kay.

The day was a chance for Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich to decompress.

“It's been action packed since we took office,” Gilich said. “But, I'm looking forward today to just relax and just visit family and friends that are on this boat.”

It was a day to remember for King Luke.

“This is one of the happiest moments in my life,” Luke said. “A tribute to all our fishermen and deceased fishermen. The ones that passed away is the great start of all of these events, because they gave blood, sweat and tears and worked hard. I can't be more excited than I am now. This is one of the moments in my life that I treasure.”

Queen Skrmetti comes from a long line of hard working fishermen.

“My favorite part is the wreath dropping,” Skrmetti said. “It's very sentimental, it means a lot and I just enjoy the atmosphere and all the people here, and I'm just very excited to be here.”

Gov. Phil Bryant said that while the fringe surrounding the ceremony is important, the reason for the event gives it a lasting meaning.

“To have the father here literally blessing these ships for their safety, for the bounty of the ocean,” Bryant said. “It really means a blessing from God. That's the most important part of all of it.”

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