Residents Call "The Blessing" A Blessing - - The News for South Mississippi

Residents Call "The Blessing" A Blessing

Whether big or small, all boats were welcome at Biloxi's Blessing of Fleet. Some unusual vessels had many people scratching their heads in amazement.

Mike Haney admits being baffled by a vessel he'd never seen before.

"To me it looks like a motor home on a barge. It looks like they kind of rigged a deck to it. I'm not really sure to tell you the truth," Haney says.

Janina Brock says, "We should support our shrimpers, and we should support our Gulf Coast."

Brock's dedication to Gulf Coast shrimpers took her and her family to the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor to watch the boats sail the sound. She'd hoped more people would share her sentiments.

"I don't see as much of a turn out this year, unfortunately. I don't see as many boats either. I see more private boats than shrimp boats," Brock says.

Even with fewer shrimp boats, many people here focused on the positive.

"I wanted to see the boats and know that people were doing well and feeling good and ready to come out here," says Rae Erickson.

The Blessing was bittersweet for Ballant family. The husband, wife and two children will soon be moving to Virginia because of dad's job transfer.

"We'll absolutely miss Biloxi and the Gulf Coast and all of it," says Phyllis Ballant. "Look at all the boats."

There were changes to this year's event because of Katrina. No prize money was awarded and boat owners weren't required to register. As a result, organizers were unsure of just how many participants attended this year's event.

by Danielle Thomas

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