Darien preparing for the 55th Blessing of the Fleet

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 4:16 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2023 at 4:54 PM EDT
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DARIEN, Ga. (WTOC) - The City of Darien is gearing up for their biggest event of the year – that’s the annual Blessing of the Fleet!

Every year, local shrimpers drive their boats under the Darien Bridge and clergy members at the top of the bridge bless the boats for a prosperous fishing season.

Organizers say they’re looking forward to bigger crowds and some new additions this year.

It’s the 55th year of the Darien tradition. The three-day long festival features vendors, musical performances, a worship service, parade through town, and of course, the shrimping boat parade.

Last year had around 6,000 people in attendance, this year they’re preparing for around 8,000. Organizers say this festival is critical for local businesses, as they typically see double or even triple the amount of customers they would on a typical weekend.

“It brings a huge boost in tourism, it’s great to see the businesses be busy that whole weekend. Many of them count on it to get them through the tougher parts of the year. They know this weekend that they’re at least going to get that reserve fund built up,” said Kat Hoyt, the CEO of Darien-McIntosh Chamber of Commerce.

Something new this year – Hoyt says they’re including all commercial fisherman who wish to enter the boat parade and blessing, not just shrimpers.

“We have a growing commercial fishing industry here, especially when you get into the oysters and the softshell crabs. They all work together, and it’s all a very similar type of life, we all want them to be safe and to be productive.”

A tradition aimed at keeping the fishing industry prosperous while also benefitting businesses back on the mainland.

Events kick off Friday, April 21st and carry on throughout the entire weekend. For the full schedule, click here.