The blessing of the fleet is a centuries-old tradition that officially kicks off boating and fishing season for many. On Friday, Flotilla 75 of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary continued the maritime tradition, as Rev. Joseph Kahumburu blessed nearly a dozen ships for sea-faring families.
For the first time this year, Harbormaster Joseph Russo encouraged boaters to “dress up their boats” in red, white and blue to honor the nation’s birthday. Local and state officials then cast their vote for the most festive boats, whose owners won prizes.
Although aggressive rain clouds loomed large in the distance, the boaters were able to take a lap around the harbor while waving to encouraging onlookers. As the parade of boats docked and boaters prepared to enjoy a traditional barbecue, the skies opened up.
“We’re always looking to make each event better than the last year,” Russo said. “I think the weather did affect the turnout at least a little bit.”
Bob Heinemann, a former commander of Flotilla 75 in Mamaroneck said that the inclement weather may have played a role in a smaller turnout than in years past.
“All the boats in the three marinas were notified, but the weather may have scared a few off,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to bring everyone together and promote safe boating awareness. It’s an unofficial start of the boating season for some.”
The contingency of voters, which included Mayor Norman Rosenblum, trustees, council members and other elected officials, determined that the Palmer family had the “best dressed boat,” and they were awarded a year of free Sea Tow. Jane Fastiggi’s boat “Altogether Now” earned her a $100 gas card from Mamaroneck Boats and Motors and the Karpoloff family boat “Lighthouse” won a $50 gas card from Brewer True Value Hardware.
American Legion Post 90 Commander Edward Murray, with his wife Cheryl, who has participated in the “Blessing of the Fleet” in years past, said that they enjoyed the patriotic twist this year.
“Our boat was decorated much more, but the wind took off half of the decorations when we started moving,” he said. “It’s a really nice event. It was good to see all of the flags and patriotism on full display this year.”
Despite the rain, Rosenblum said that the village was still planning to host a fireworks show at 9 p.m., when the forecast says rain should have ceased.
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