The Blessing Of The Fleet Makes A Bigger Comeback This Year In Biloxi

From a handful of boats last year to 28 shrimping boats and dozens of pleasure boats this year, those who came out to the Blessing of the Fleet in Biloxi say the turnout gave them a reason to celebrate.

"We lost a lot with Katrina, but we haven't lost our spirit. We haven't lost our heritage and this is a sign that we're going forward," says Bishop Thomas Rodi.

The Shrimp King and Queen came along to help bless the boats.

"Helping the bishop bless the boats was amazing.  Being that close to him, having that honor, it was great," says Amanda Cox, the Shrimp Queen.

"It's a great event, and I hope it comes back like Mardi Gras.  I think it will," says Arnie Gollott, the Shrimp King.

Arnie Gollott's family roots in the shrimping and fishing business dates back to 1928.  He says blessing the boats as king is an honor he's anxiously awaited.

"I'm very happy to be king.  It's wonderful.  It's a great experience.   I've been wanting to do it all my life, finally got to do it," says Gollott.  "My family asked me to carry on the tradition.   It's a legacy, the 79th annual, and I don't regret one thing.  I made 12 new friends.  It's been such an awesome experience.  This has been great."

Whether on water or watching from on shore, the bishop hopes everyone takes away a very important message.

"Take away the message that God is with us on land on sea and the diversity of our people and the richness of our community," Bishop Rodi.

And the Shrimp King offers these thoughts on the history and future of the shrimping and fishing industry as well as the Blessing of the Fleet.

"It's had its good times and bad times, but it always seems to come back.  Next year, it's going to be much bigger and I'm counting on it."