By Mary Ellen Thompson | The 58th Annual Beaufort Water Festival concluded on Sunday with the Blessing of the Fleet and Parade of Boats in the Beaufort River at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition on the final day of the Water Festival.
Centuries ago in the Mediterranean, local priests blessed the fishing boats to ensure a safe and plentiful season.
At Water Festival, boats are decorated and line up to parade in front of the seawall for the blessing, and circle the harbor again for the enjoyment of the crowd. This year about fifteen boats, including DragonBoat Beaufort’s new boat, participated in the event.
The Gracie Bell, owned by the Reeves family, was the only shrimp boat this year that graced the waterway. Prior to the Blessing, a church service was held aboard the Gracie Bell by the Shell Point Baptist Church for the enjoyment of anyone in the park who wished to attend.