16th Annual Blessing of The Fleet

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More than 65 boats paraded through the water at the Panama City Marina, Saturday to celebrate the opening day of boating season.

“We are a fishing and boating community, there are so many community resources that are structured around the Bay,” said Bill Lloyd, Director of the Panama City Marina.

The marina has hosted the Blessing of the Fleet for the past 16 years, but about 7 years ago a non-profit organization for adults with traumatic brain injuries, called Second Chance, got involved.

The Second Chance center now plays a huge role in organizing the event and uses it as one of its biggest fundraisers each year.

Jared Padgett, the Life Training Skills Specialist at Second Chance said, “With brain injuries there are not a whole lot of scars, so it’s an injury that is not really seen to the naked eye, it’s a little bit hidden, so it’s really frustrating to have a brain injury and no one can tell, so this event helps to increase awareness in Bay County and surrounding areas.”

Many local businesses, including artist Paul Brent, donated to the event. Second Chance also hosted a fish fry to bring in some extra money.

Now that the boating season has officially started, marina officials expect to see 150 to 200 boats on the water per day.