Bayou La Batre's 61st Blessing of the Fleet

The small fishing village of Bayou La Batre, Alabama was made famous in the movie Forrest Gump as the hometown of Forrest's Army buddy Bubba.  After leaving Vietnam Gump ventured down to the Bayou to fulfill Bubba's dream of owning a shrimp boat.  Winston Groom, the author of the book the movie was based on, is a native of Mobile County and picked the tiny town because it was a city built on commercial fishing.

Since 1949 Bayou La Batre has observed the Blessing of the Fleet, both a religious and cultural observance.  The festival has evolved over the years to include arts and crafts displays, hot seafood plates, a court made up of young lasses plus the two biggest draws a gumbo cook-off (more on that next week) and the boat parade.  The Mardi Gras flotilla will parade from the dock at St Margaret's Catholic Church to the mouth of Bayou La Batre and back.

The Blessing Mass will be held at 11:00 AM and is lead by the Archbishop at St. Margaret's who offers the following prayer:
May God in Heaven fulfill abundantly the prayers which are pronounced over you and your boats and equipment on the occasion of the Blessing of the Fleet. God bless your going out and coming in; The Lord be with you at home and on the water. May he accompany you when you start on your many journeys: May he fill your nets abundantly as a reward for your labor; And may he bring you all safely in, when you turn your boats homeward to shore.... Amen
This year they will be raffling off a Fleet Blessing Quilt.  The images on the king-size quilt were hand embroidered by ladies of the parish. Three decorative pillows, each bearing a scene, come with the quilt.  The Blessing of the Fleet takes place Sunday, May 2nd 2010 at St. Margaret's Catholic Church located at 13790 South Wintzell Avenue.  For more information and a schedule of events visit the web site.

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