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Blessing of the Fleet will go on despite COVID-19

Stonington — The 67th annual Blessing of the Fleet with not be a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike other traditional events across the region that have been canceled due to the virus, organizers of the Blessing will hold a scaled back event Sunday morning in the borough that is designed to preserve its most meaningful parts.

“It will be short but we want to make sure we honor the fishermen especially since we lost one fishermen this year,” said Mike Crowley of the Blessing of the Fleet Committee. “This is why we do this.”

The Blessing prays for the success and safety of local fishermen over the coming year and remembers Town Dock fleet members who have died at sea. Their names are listed on the memorial at the dock.

This year’s event will be even more solemn than usual because it was just in April that fisherman Charles Lathrop, 50, of Westerly, died after falling overboard from the local scallop boat Invictus off the coast of New Jersey.

Because of COVID-19, Crowley said there can not be a big procession with lots of people. The celebration will begin as it always does with a special Fishermen’s Mass at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary Church, where capacity is limited due to social distancing. The Mass will be livestreamed.

“We will have Mass. That’s the most important thing,” said Crowley.

Local and state officials along with Rev. Dennis Perkins, the pastor of St. Mary, will the proceed to the Town Dock with the Mystic Pipe band. They will lay a wreath at the fishermen’s memorial. Perkins will bless the fishing boats and then they will head out into the harbor for the laying of the anchor wreath on the water.

The event is organized by the Southern New England Fishermen and Lobstermen’s Association, St. Mary Church and the blessing committee.

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