Blessing of the Fleet returns to the Pass Christian Harbor Saturday

A celebration steeped in tradition and history returns to the Pass Christian Harbor this Saturday.

The annual Blessing of the Fleet returns and organizers hope it brings awareness to the struggles faced by our Coast seafood industry.

Chairman Kirk Kimball said, “It’s an honor to bring back something that we can put back on the pedestal that was once dusty and we want to refine it and put it back again.”

Shrimpers will once again be blessed for a safe and bountiful season at the Pass Christian Harbor when the 44th annual event happens this weekend.

The blessing was last held in 2018, canceled due to a lack of interest, but organizers are eager to bring it back to its former glory. Shrimp King Jerry Forte said, “Everybody came down and there was a free boiled shrimp, crawfish, band, and all of that.”

This year’s Shrimp King, Jerry Forte, recalls his fondest memories of prior Blessings of the Fleet, one being the free pounds of shrimp. He owns a seafood distribution company on the harbor. The family business is now managed by his son, Jeremy Forte. They’re hopeful the event will cast a light on the challenges they and others in the industry face. “It gets tougher every year. That’s one reason there’s not the boats there used to be. All we can do is hope things will start improving because our whole Coast was built on the seafood industry.”

For the Fortes, one of their biggest issues is foreign competition.

“This is just an industry that we need help down here, but at the same time, we want to celebrate these guys and celebrate these guys around the water.”

The event starts at 11 a.m. Saturday in the harbor.

After you watch the Blessing of the Fleet, you can enjoy live music from the local Starz band and food from multiple vendors.

Many downtown businesses also plan to extend their hours for the day.