Blessing of the Fleet celebrates deeply rooted heritage of Biloxi

Blessing of the Fleet celebrates deeply rooted heritage of Biloxi
Father Greg Barras has been involved in the Blessing of the Fleet for 13 years.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In 13 years, Father Greg Barras has sprinkled a lot of holy water in the Biloxi Channel.

To him, it never gets old. "The ability to keep it fresh is constantly going back to the focal point of God, this being God's creation," said Barras, pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church. "We move away from the selfishness and the self-centeredness that we control it and we run it."

Fifteen working boats and three dozen pleasure boats lined up along the Biloxi channel for the 89th annual Blessing of the Fleet. While the boats passed, they were greeted by Shrimp King Arny Gollott Jr. and Queen Sarah Gatlin.

"It's an honor to be crowned the queen," Sarah said. "It just makes me really understand that you know your heritage is important and everyone needs to go back to their roots and really understand where they came from and how they are who they are today."

The blessing was preceded by the traditional wreath drop in memory of those fishermen who have been lost at sea. To Gollott, the event is a lesson for those inside and outside of the seafood industry.

"It affects a multitude of people. This is just a great thing to teach the kids culture wise and your heritage and history," he said. "Just means a lot to the people of the Gulf Coast also."

His grandson, Arny Gollott IV, enjoyed his first experience in the blessing. "I think it's actually pretty fun," he said. "Got to play with my friends. Got to do a bunch of fun stuff that probably a lot of kids get to do in a whole weekend."

He's not pushing away his family's heritage in the business. He's embracing it. "I want to be it in when I grow up," Arny said. "And I want to help my business that I'm in grow, and I also want to have...try to have some fun while doing it."

First timer Breton Guice is likewise impressed. "Just feels special in my heart because I love the ocean, my father loves the ocean," he said. "Makes me feel, honestly, amazed. I love the gathering of all the ships in one area all to be blessed."

My Sons was awarded Best Decorated boat.

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