Crowds gather for 88th annual Blessing of the Fleet - - The News for South Mississippi

Crowds gather for 88th annual Blessing of the Fleet

88th annual blessing of the fleet 88th annual blessing of the fleet
88th annual blessing of the fleet 88th annual blessing of the fleet

As the 2017 Mississippi shrimp season approaches, the fleet gathered in Biloxi for the 88th annual Blessing of the Fleet.

As always, the event began with the dropping of a wreath into the Mississippi Sound. It's a moment Father Greg Barras believes is important.

"The wreath in that one moment prior to the boats coming through is significant to remember the women and men who died," Barras said. "And we take a moment to be grateful for their sacrifice and for their love and their care."

With 19 working boats and 40 pleasure boats in the line, it was a busy afternoon for Father Barras as he blessed each vessel that passed by.

"The sole purpose is to give thanks to God for the bounty that comes out of the gulf of Mexico," said Barras.

Richard Johnson is this year's Shrimp King. With a tradition of fishing in his family, Johnson felt it only fitting to take on the roll.

"Just carry on the family tradition. I'm a 7th generation fisherman," said Johnson. "We came from a long line of fishermen from way back, from the 1800s."

Shrimp Queen Devahn Delaneuville had similar feelings about her naming as this year's queen.

"It feels amazing honestly, being able to carry on my family's legacy and being able to keep our family's name alive," Delaneuville said. "It's just an amazing feeling."

Johnson, who captains his own shrimping vessel, is still unsure about the upcoming season.

"I've been hearing a little bit," said Johnson. "They've been doing some shrimping down in Louisiana right now and they're getting a little bit but the price is getting them good. The price is way down on the shrimp right now."

As the parade came to a close, and the votes were tallied, the winner for the best decorated boat was "My Sons" with their patriotic theme. Fair Maiden came in second place. The Participation working boat was the Barbara K.

Shrimp season begins Wednesday, June 7.

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