DARIEN, Ga. (WTOC) - Several shrimp boats made their way up the Darien River on Sunday for the 53rd annual Blessing of the Fleet. The tradition celebrates the local community’s biggest industry, shrimping.
Eight shrimp boats were blessed at the Darien Bridge this year in hopes of a bountiful shrimp season.
Shrimpers are known to be at the heart of McIntosh County, and hundreds showed up with well wishes.
“This is the very heart of this community and it has been for many, many years. And for these men and women to know they’re supported by the people that live here I think means a tremendous amount to them,” said Father Bill Barton, the priest at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church in Darien.
The Darien-McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce scaled back the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Blessing of the Fleet festival is usually three days long. This year, vendors and attractions were missing, and not as many boats came out.
“It’s not as big an event as it used to be, but I think it’s absolutely as important and special as it ever was,” said Barton.
Last year, the blessing was held on the docks without crowds, according to Barton.
This year, the last boat dropped a wreath in the water in honor of those seamen who lost their lives on the water.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the local Chamber of Commerce split the three-day celebration into two separate events. The two-day festival is scheduled for September 17-18.