Dozens Attended 17th Annual Blessing of the Fleet

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PANAMA CITY- Dozens of people gathered at the downtown marina Saturday morning for the 17th annual blessing of the fleet.

"it has been a pleasure to have all the military, civilians, everybody united to get their vessels blessed," said Ellena Roland, US Coast Guard Auxillary Specialist.

Religious representatives prayed for safe passage of all the vessels in the marina and commemorated those lost at sea in the past year with a laying of the wreath ceremony.

The historic governor stone led the other boats in the celebration of the upcoming boating and fishing season.

Folks enjoyed live music and tons of food, including fried fish, baked beans, cole slaw and hushpuppies for a good cause.

The food benefited second chance of northwest Florida, an organization serving the needs of adults with brain injuries and their families.

"I hope that not only everyone has a great time, but that we raise enough money, provide enough food, which i know we will and as well and continue end the silence and help aware people of second chance and TBI," said James Durham, second chance member.

This year, organizers added a new twist with the first sock burning.

"we sacrifice our socks to the gods of summer, put on our flip flops and go and enjoy a delicious plate of fried fish," said Stan Jones, panama city marina director.

Several other organizations set up booths at this annual tradition.

"The blessing of the fleet is something that I’ve attended for the 10 years since I’ve been with the coast guard auxillarly," said Roland.

"When I was on active duty, i was part of this over on the naval station so I’m familiar with it pretty much," said Tommy Grent, Gulf Coast Chief Petty Officer Association Member.