The high season is fast approaching the cooler climates, which means marinas and harbors across the country are in prime time to host their annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies for fishermen, servicemen and women, boaters, and sailors. But what is this festival all about and how did it originate?
The custom of the Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition observed by fishing and boating communities, where they pray for a bountiful harvest and the safety of the men at sea. The practice can be traced back to Old World Mediterranean fishing communities. While the practice originated from Catholicism and was brought to the United States by immigrants who held firmly to their Christian beliefs, it has since evolved to embrace more religions and cultures as it spread. Each harbor makes its annual Blessing of the Fleet its own, incorporating boat parades, church services, contests, potlucks, and music, some even expanding the event to a multi-day festival.
We've compiled a list of Blessing of the Fleet events across the United States that you can attend and enjoy. Know of a ceremony that we missed? Email email@example.com and we'll have your event listed in a jiffy.
Boothbay Harbor: Each year, the Boothbay Community gathers in Boothbay Harbor to remember those in the maritime industry who have lost their lives to the sea, and to pray for the safety of those who continue to earn their living on the water. The Blessing of The Fishing Fleet takes place this year on Sunday, June 26th at 1:30 pm as part of the harbor's Windjammer Days festivities. The festivities include a boat illumination and a special visit from the tall ship Oliver Hazard Perry.
Narragansett, RI: The Narragansett Lions Club's Blessing of the Fleet will take place this year between July 28th and 30th this year and includes an annual Seafood Festival and 10-Mile Road Race. Festival Dates & Times:
Thursday, July 28, 2022, 5:00PM - 10:30PM
Friday, July 29, 2022 , 5:00PM - 11:00PM
Saturday, July 30, 2022, 12:00PM - 11:00PM
Cranston, RI: The Rhode Island Yacht Club will host the Gaspee Days parade of boats + Blessing of the Fleet on Sunday, June 12th from 11-1pm.
Provincetown, MA: This Blessing of the Fleet is part of the Portuguese Festival Weekend, held this year between June 23rd and June 26th. The festival includes four days of live music, dancing, parades, incredible food, games, and so much more.
Onset, MA: Hosted by the Onset Bay Association, this event includes a parade, blessing ceremony, dance party, and bonfire! It will take place on July 2nd, 2022 at 11 a.m. Registration opens at 10am. Visit their Facebook page for updates.
Stonington, CT: One of the longest running Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies in New England, every year on the last weekend in July the annual Stonington Harbor Blessing of the Fleet ceremony remembers Stonington’s fishermen, the last fishing fleet in Connecticut. This two-day celebration includes parades, bands, food, dancing on the docks, and a Sunday Mass followed by the Blessing of the Fleet and the parade of boats. An anchor-shaped wreath is also laid on the waters outside Stonington Harbor. We've yet to see the event page go live for this one but expect it to be soon, so keep an eye out.
Cape Charles, VA: The town marina annually holds the Blessing of the Fleet in Cape Charles Town Harbor. This year it will be on April 22nd at the Shanty Restaurant. Details here.