92nd annual Blessing of the Fleet

Boat after boat lined up in the Biloxi Channel to be blessed at this year’s 92nd annual Blessing of the Fleet.

Vessels sailed through the Biloxi Channel to be blessed by Holy Water and graced by royalty like the Shrimp King and Queen.

Every year, the crown is passed on and this year’s King is Ricky Ross. He’s never had a view like this during past year’s Blessing of the Fleet. “That’s a first. I’ve had my boat for 40 years and that’s the first time I watched my boat go by.”

King Ross is a native Biloxian and lifetime fisherman and never thought he would be fortunate enough to be selected as royalty. “It’s really been an honor. Today is really special. Everybody cheering me on. I love it and the queen, she’s a doll. I love it and I’ll keep shrimping.”

As for his queen, Leah Crabtree, after competing for the past three years, she’s humbled to finally be selected.

The tradition started in 1929 and blesses shrimpers for a safe and bountiful season as well as honoring those that have given their life to the industry. You might notice an age gap between the King and Queen, there is a purpose behind that. The queen represents the youth in the seafood industry. “We represent the stories and memories of the stories. The king is older because of the heritage he represents because made a contribution in the seafood industry working on his boat harvesting his shrimp.”

Considering his lifetime of experiences in the seafood industry and participating in countless blessings, if you ask the king what makes the Blessing of the Fleet such as an exceptional experience, it’s an easy answer. “You feel special that God is blessing and you’re hoping you’ll have a bountiful season.”

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