The annual Blessing of the Fleet welcomes the new shrimp season

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Boats lined up alongside Deer Island celebrating the 93rd Annual Blessing of the Fleet.

The annual blessing which promotes a successful and safe fishing season is a tradition in Biloxi. Michael Kovacevich remembers attending the ceremony as a young boy.

“My family came from Croatia to Biloxi and like hundreds of others to work the seafood, so you know just about everybody in Biloxi can tie their past to seafood,” Kovacevich said.

Kovacevich, like many on the coast, has a long history of family members who worked in the fishing industry.

“My mother’s dad owned a big fishing factory, DeJeans Packing Company,” he said. “My brother ran a factory, we all worked in a factory. We have a lot of shrimp juice in our blood.”

The ceremony began with a Harrison County Sheriff’s Department helicopter dropping a wreath into the water, honoring deceased fishermen.

“A lot of those people are still getting hurt out here with the winches and stuff and nets. Back then it was the schooners and stuff. It was a lot harder work. It’s a dangerous dangerous job,” Kovacevich said.

This year, the Shrimp King and Queen were on the blessing boat. King Joseph Powell said riding on the blessing boat brought him old memories of when he was a fisher.

“It brings back old memories of the Mid 50′s when I was a shrimper and being on the boat. Today just brought back memories and I enjoyed it so very much,” Powell said.

The shrimp boats who participated in the ceremony entered a best decorated contest.

The winners were announced after the celebration. 1st place was won by Captain Justin. 2nd place was won by Night Moves, and 3rd place was won by Mark and Dawn.

The winners can contact St. Michaels Church office to claim prizes.

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Leslie Rojas

Leslie Rojas

Leslie Rojas comes to WLOX from the Los Angeles area where she earned her degree in Journalism from California State University Long Beach.