by Madison White Franks
REEDVILLE—The Reedville fishing community on May 7 celebrated the 47th annual Blessing of the Fleet. Over 200 people attended the event at the Old Morris-Fisher Factory Tall Stack site in Reedville.
Sponsored by St. Mary’s Church in Fleeton, Omega Protein Inc. and the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum, the blessing marks the opening of the fishing season on the Chesapeake Bay.
Before the ceremony began, a line of approximately 50 commercial and recreational boats paraded up Cockrell’s Creek to Fleeton’s Point.
The ceremony began with 12-year-old Courtney Kline singing the national anthem and Omega Protein vice president of operations Monty Diehl thanking the public for attending the ceremony. The program continued with prayers and scripture readings related to life at sea.
“The blessing of the fleet began centuries ago in Mediterranean fishing communities,” said guest speaker Rev. James Godwin.
“I want to say that for anyone that has ever worked on the water, he or she will know that it is hard work. Sometimes dangerous, sometimes exciting and often boring…it is time to celebrate a way of life. The way of life here encompasses a large number of persons who are active in fishing, crabbing, oystering, net-building, recreational fishing…and then it includes all the merchants and repair facilities that support these activities,” said Rev. Godwin.
“We are also celebrating the sea around us for without it there would be no boats, no fish, or no industry,” he said. “Today I want to celebrate the people whose hard work and vision made fishing a foundation of life here.
“We pray that God will protect you on the water and grant you an abundant harvest,” said Godwin.
Representatives from American Legion Post 117 of Reedville cast a memorial wreath in memory of all those who have been lost at sea while the Kilmarnock & District Pipe Band played “Amazing Grace” for a solemn conclusion.