This weekend Mt Pleasant will host it’s annual Blessing of the Fleet right here in Waterfront Park. It is a very highly anticipated and regarded event here in Charleston. The festival pays tribute to Mount Pleasant’s local shrimping and fishing industry, offering a boat parade, live music, craft show and lots of free activities all next to the Ravenel Bridge and Charleston Harbor for a backdrop! What could be better for a Sunday afternoon? Plus, it is a way to pay homage to those that keep our local shrimp and fishing industry alive. How did it come to be such an important tradition? It’s roots go back in history to the Mediterranean fishing villages. It began many centuries ago. The practice is predominantly Catholic and a blessing from the local priest was thought to ensure a safe and bountiful season to the fisherman whom the villages depended on for their food from the sea. The event was brought to the United States by immigrants who held strongly to their Catholic religious beliefs. The events that are part of the ritual vary by community and range from a simple ceremony to a multi-day festival including a Catholic mass, Parades, Pageantry, Dancing, Feasting and Contests. The Blessing of the Fleet is held in coastal fishing communities throughout much of the world.
This is the most widely used Bible verse is as follows:
“Most gracious Lord, who numbered among your apostles the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James and John, we pray you to consecrate this boat to righteous work in your name. Guide the captain at her helm. So prosper her voyages that an honest living may be made. Watch over her passengers and crew and bring them to a safe return. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon this vessel and all who come aboard, this day and forever. Amen”
Here in Mt. Pleasant, the tradition began by the Magwood family; local shrimpers who started the festival in 1988. Every year the net proceeds from the festival have been donated to local nonprofit organizations. Past beneficiaries include such worthy causes as East Cooper Habitat for Humanity, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, the Charleston Port & Seafarers’ Society, East Cooper Community Outreach, Louie’s Kids, and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation/SC Coastal Conservation Association.
29th Blessing of the Fleet information:
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Memorial Waterfront Park
11:30 am – 6:00 pm
See you there!