Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony, an Ancient Tradition

Mountain Harbor has proudly hosted an annual Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony for more than 15 years now - on Lake Ouachita, just off of Marina Point. At Harbor, Brother David Jones prays over each blessing that is carefully wrapped and distributed to every boat that passes by the Joplin Fire Department fleet of fire boats. In addition, Jones also prays over each vessel that passes under his bow. It's a simple prayer - one that hopefully brings grace and safety to the families that devote so much time to Ouachita during the summer season.

This tradition, of course, began centuries ago - as traditions usually do. Mediterranean fishing communities held elaborate ceremonies meant to ensure a safe and bountiful season. A successful fishing season brought prosperity to the entire community of families, or could just as easily keep everyone starving through a long winter. The more elaborate and commonly held ceremonies were most common among Catholic communities.

The United States was introduced to these ceremonies when it was only a "New World," as immigrants made their way here and brought with them the culture, traditions, and lifestyle that were accustomed to. As the centuries passed, the events began to include multi-day festivals, a Catholic Mass in some areas, parades, pageantry, dancing, feasting and contests. The most well-known of these ceremonies still take place in Jacksonville, Florida; Darien, Georgia; Brunswick, Georgia; McClellanville, South Carolina; Mount Pleasant, South Carolina; and even Washington D.C.

Here at Harbor, our ceremony hosted 37 boats this year. It's a small, simple celebration that we host each Memorial Day weekend, but one that we cherish deeply. It's so special because of the many families and friends that return here year after year to celebrate summertime, beautiful woods and a wilderness lake, as well as the pleasure and luxury of togetherness. We thank you everyone that participated. And - we wish each guest that touches our shores a safe, exciting, and happy 2013 boating season.


See a full gallery of photos - including all participating boats and families - at this link: