61st annual Blessing of the Fleet will be July 27 in Stonington

Stonington - Organizers have announced that the 61st annual Blessing of the Fleet will be celebrated Sunday, July 27.

The celebration remember members of the local commercial fishing fleet who have died at sea as well as prays for the safety and success of the captains, owners and crews that will go to sea in the coming year.

A procession from St. Mary Church to the Town Dock will take place after the 10:30 a.m. Mass. Once at the dock, the boats will be blessed by Bishop of Norwich Michael Cote. The festival will continue from noon to 4 p.m. with food, music by Country Misfits and miniature golf, all open to the public.

The blessing is similar to ones that take place in fishing communities throughout New England, Europe and Australia. While the blessing here has downsized in recent years - it used to take place over three days, it has retained the portions that related to religious and cultural significance.

The once large and profitable fleet has shrunk in recent years as catch limits and restrictions have hurt the industry.

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