Friday, May 29, 2009
[CHINCOTEAGUE] Blessing of Fleet draws large crowd
The 13th annual Blessing of the Fleet took place Sunday afternoon at Robert N. Reed Downtown Park. This was the first time the event was held at the park.
It was formerly held at the Town Dock, behind the American Legion Post.
A large crowd assembled around the park, including many members of the Chincoteague Charter Boat Association, many in their boats that had docked nearby.
Capt. Barry Frishman served as master of ceremonies. Councilman Terry Howard substituted for Mayor Jack Tarr and welcomed everyone to the event.
"I'm thankful we can gather on this island and publicly ask Jesus to bless us," said Howard. He went through the recent problems of the Accomack County Board of Supervisors as they for a brief period of time tried to drop the name "Jesus" from their prayers at pubic meetings.
The blessing of the fleet was given by Rev. D. Kevin Eley of the Union Baptist Church on Chincoteague. He asked, in Jesus' name, for all the boats and crews to "enjoy the greatest year ever."
A special ceremony honored the memory of Capt. Leo Carroll Mullikin Jr., who passed away last August after a long battle with cancer. Known to his many friends as Capt. Limo, he was well-liked and made friends wherever he traveled.
Capt. Mike Handforth presented a memorial wreath to the U.S. Coast Guard in honor of Capt. Mullikin, and the Coast Guard deposited the wreath in the ocean in Mullikin's memory.
A.J. Bowden sang a couple of songs, and Frishman led everyone in the singing of God Bless America.
Following the benediction by Rev. Eley, the boats assembled in the channel and moved together south to Curtis Merritt Harbor.
Frishman said this was the biggest Blessing of the Fleet ceremony he had witnessed on the island.