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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A New Blessing of the Fleet

This year hundreds gathered Saturday outside the Great Lakes Maritime Center at Vantage Point to take part in the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony. The first-ever event to start the Great Lakes shipping season.

Peter Werle, the center’s lead volunteer, said he arranged the ceremony to get people down to the water and recognize the city’s maritime heritage, now largely reduced to tourist vessels and tall ships. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved a slogan deeming the city the ‘‘Maritime Capital of the Great Lakes’’ in 2005.

Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies are held annually in coastal towns throughout the world. Narragansett, RI; Stonington, CT; Darien, GA; Kemah, TX; and Ulladulla, New South Wales and follows a centuries-old tradition originating in southern European, predominantly Catholic, fishing communities. A blessing from the local priest was meant to ensure a safe and bountiful season.

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