St. Gertrude the Great Catholic Church will host its third annual Blessing of the Fleet under the Highway 90 bridge in Bayou Des Allemands on Saturday. A blessing of the water way will begin at 11:45 a.m., and Father Ray will follow with an opening prayer at noon to kick off the blessing of the boats.
Mitzi Petit, a St. Gertrude parishioner and event organizer, said anything that floats – from commercial fishing boats and work boats to sport fishing boats and power boats, pleasure crafts, PWCs, hunting boats, mud boats, houseboats, kayaks and every vessel in between – is invited to attend. No registration is needed.
Petit said the church first held the event 2018. 2019 was another successful year for the blessing, but the pandemic canceled the 2020 event. The 2021 blessing was scheduled for May, but when bad weather side-lined those planning efforts the organizers decided to host this year’s blessing in June.
“The community loves it,” Petit said of the Blessing of the Fleet. “People really have enjoyed it … the first two blessings were beautiful days out the water and we had so many people.”
Petit said while official numbers weren’t kept, she estimates that the event brought in over 200 vessels in 2019.
“That’s a good crowd to show up on the water,” she said. “Des Allemands has always been a fishing community. We thought the blessing was a great idea and it was hit.”
While registration isn’t needed to attend the blessing, registration information for the vessel decorating contest can be found on the Facebook page titled “Bayou Des Allemands Blessing of the Fleet.” There will be People’s Choice and Committee’s Choice winners, with the People’s Choice vote taking place via Facebook and the Committee’s Choice vote taking place during one of the committee’s monthly meetings. All entry submissions must take place electronically and no later than noon on June 25, and winners will be awarded a custom trophy created by a local wood worker at the LA Catfish Festival.
This year’s event will feature live music by Podnah’s & DJ Jonathan Madere atop a private houseboat on the water, and food vendors will be located on the church grounds. Menu items will include BBQ, loaded teas and snowballs.
Organizers said rafting lanes will be established in the waterway with anchor points marked by a large red buoy. Participants should plan to bring boat bumpers to protect their boat from rubbing against other boats when rafting together, and organizers ask that no swimming take place between the bridges during the event.
Petit said the St. Charles Parish Sheriff Office’s water patrol, as well as Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, will have vessels on site to ensure everyone’s safety. All boating laws will be enforced at the event, so participants are encouraged to check their boats in advance to ensure boat registration and all safety equipment is up to date and in good working condition.
The Bayou Gauche Volunteer Fire boats will fire off their fire hoses creating a water arch to initiate the start of the blessing of boats, and everyone will line up in the north westerly direction coming from Petit Lake Des Allemands going toward the bridges and Lake Des Allemands.
“The boats come through one at a time and there will be fishing nets for donations,” Petit said. “Any donations go to the church. It’s a nice day on the water and we have such a great waterway … it gives people an excuse to get out on their boats and enjoy the day. Some people even watch from the street and see all the boats go by.”