The city of Algoma is choosing to mark the anniversary of a marina fire in a positive way, by staging its first-ever Blessing of the Fleet on Friday evening.
The blessing is an old Mediterranean fishing tradition meant to ensure a safe and bountiful fishing season. All boaters and land observers from the Bay of Green Bay to the shores of Lake Michigan are invited to attend.
The blessing by Pastor Christopher Jackson, with a special safety proclamation from Algoma Mayor Wayne Schmidt and Assembly citation signed by Gov. Scott Walker and presented by state Rep. Joel Kitchens, will be preceded by a trout boil and band at Sunrise Cove Marina that will continue into the evening. All proceeds from the trout boil will go to Algoma Fire and Rescue.
The event was created by Troy Mattson of Kinn’s Sportfishing, who suffered epic losses to four boats during the fire that raged overnight on June 23, 2016. Mattson said he wants to give “recognition to the Algoma Fire and Rescue as they saved the lives of several crew members, other boaters, and all the vessels in the marina. Many ports around the world start their fishing season with a ceremony like this and I think it is only fitting that we do this in the legendary fishing port of Algoma, Wisconsin.”
Mayor Wayne Schmidt also finds the ceremony fitting.
“The fishing industry is an important part of the city’s economy,” Schmidt said. “Along with the sport fishing there has been an increase in pleasure boating and kayaking. On average, 650 people die each year in boating-related accidents in the US. It is a goal of the city to make sure that people practice safe boating habits.”
Boaters are asked to line up in the Ahnapee River starting at 6:30 p.m. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. on the shore of Sunrise Cove Marina, 70 Church St., with the national anthem. Schmidt will present the city proclamation followed by Kitchens. At approximately 7:25 p.m. the U.S. Coast Guard will escort the head boat out into the water beyond the break walls. All other boaters are asked to follow and circle around the head boat to receive the blessing from Jackson.
The blessing will be broadcast on marine band radio, and arrangements are being made to make the blessing available for those on land.
The schedule of activities at Sunrise Cove Marina:
Live music with the Charlie Bucket Band 5-9 p.m.
Old-fashioned trout boil by Andy LaFond, beginning at 5p.m. until plates run out
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boat Safety Checks 6-8 p.m.
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary “Coastie The Tugboat” 6-7 p.m.
DJ in the Tent 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
For more information, visit https://visitalgomawi.com/blessing/
PHOTO: Mayor Wayne Schmidt at Algoma Marina. © 2017 Josh Kohanek. Courtesy of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.