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|Blessing of the Fleet - Newport|
March 16, 2013
The Oregon coast welcomes spring with an old mariner’s custom this weekend -- Blessing of the Fleet.
The annual event has been held in Newport since the 1950s, and begins with a Fishermen’s Memorial Service Saturday (March 16) at 8 a.m.
The service is held at the Fishermen’s Memorial Sanctuary at Yaquina State Park. It’s open to the public.
The sanctuary was commissioned by Newport Fishermen’s Wives, Inc., so that families would have a place of comfort when they’ve lost someone at sea.
Local clergy join in the Blessing of the Fleet, at 12:45 p.m., when an annual parade of fishing vessels, charter boats and pleasure craft begins near the port’s international terminal.
Boats meet the lifeboat Victory, where local clergy will be on board to bless each vessel as it passes. (The event is broadcast live on KNPT 1310 AM, around 1 p.m. History of each vessel will be broadcast too.)
The whole community gets involved in the event with a survival suit race and highliner contest, in which competitors mend nets, stack crab pots, tie knots and show off other seafaring skills.
Any boat can be blessed; owners should register at England Marine Supply or Schiewe Marine on the bayfront by 11 a.m. tomorrow.
“The Blessing of the Fleet began as an Old World Sicilian custom emphasizing faith and perseverance -- qualities that have long fueled those who go to sea to earn their living,” the Newport Fishermen’s Wives state on their website. “Newport’s Blessing of the Fleet has
continued the custom of asking for prayers for protection at sea, bountiful catches and peace of mind for the families at home.”
For the first time, the annual event will sell T-shirts to commemorate the Blessing.