Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Georgia holiday

No, it isn't peanut day. Not Spanish moss day or rent a redneck day. Down here in coastal Georgia we have a special holiday in the spring time each year. It's Blessing of the Fleet Day.

The tradition to bless our commercial fishing trawlers dates back to the original Portuguese fishermen who brought their water-men skills to our coast. At the start of each shrimping season, the boats parade up to the Darien Bridge one at a time to receive a blessing and a sprinkling of holy water.

This year we had 16 shrimp boats in the boat parade. The last vessel belonged to the Grand Marshal of the event, a man who died of a sudden heart attack two weeks before the Blessing. His entire family, his friends, and neighbors all turned out to honor him and his life's work. His two sons captained his boat, Smokin Joe. The last boat each year tosses a memorial wreath overboard to commemorate all who have gone before. This year there wasn't one dry eye in the crowd when the wreath sailed over the stern of Smokin Joe.

Through time our area has added embellishments to the idea, expanding the idea from a one-hour ceremony to a three day celebration, but the focus for our community remains the same. God bless us and keep us safe.

Maggie Toussaint
books, books, and more books

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