Another Year of Favor: Celebrating the 67th Annual Blessing of the Fleet

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By Lori Leath Smith

We all have reasons why we live here. But, I believe, many are drawn here, because our city is so blessed…After all, Destin IS known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”

Destin Blessing Of The Fleet Not only a beach destination, our town was founded on fishing! But despite the legendary stories of big catches and heroic fishing, there are also horrendous ones where hope was dim and times were tough. And through it all, we prevail and are still the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village, with the largest fishing fleet in North America.

As I’ve said before, could it be that because we bless our city, its citizens, our Harbor, businesses, residents, youth and many more each year, that it results in favor for our little paradise? You can ask captains in the fishing fleet and many will tell you their success rides on prayer. Fisherman, locals and area professionals alike will tell you they believe their success rides on blessings.

That brings us to Destin’s Week of Blessings held each year and is what makes continuing the yearly “blessing of the fleet” tradition so important. Despite having grown and prospered from a fleet of four to five boats more than half a century ago into more than 125 charter-fishing boats today, this one event begun by Destin’s Immanuel Anglican Church will always make it feel like Old Destin, and our lucky fishing village it is best known for.

To further expand the “blessings,” over twenty years ago, several pastors got together to form the ‘Church of Destin’ as a symbol of unity, crossing denominational barriers and also igniting Destin’s Week of Blessings. As the Blessing of the Fleet grew, so did the hundreds of people, families and businesses in the area who also wanted to be blessed. And before you knew it, the vision expanded into a full “Week of Blessings” with faith-focused family-oriented activities to bless and support the Destin community. That’s how the Blessing of the Marketplace was born, enabling the “blessing” to impact further to other locals, professionals and visitors, too.

Hundreds of business owners, first responders, industry leaders and representatives gather during the Blessing of the Marketplace at Destin United Methodist Church. Local pastors from various churches representing the collective “Church of Destin” pray over professionals in our community.

Destin’s 67th Annual Blessing of the Fleet will be held on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 9th, at the docks behind Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer Restaurant on the Destin Harbor. The event begins at 4 p.m. with a Captains’ Worship and Prayer Service. The public is encouraged to attend. Following the service, around 5:15 p.m., local clergy will process to the dock to begin blessing those vessels which have pre-registered followed by Brotula’s Fish Feast for all. (Donations requested.) All commercial fishing, safety and recreational vessels that make their living on the sea are invited to participate. Several local area pastors will gather at the dock and the bless the boats one by one as they proceed in a line down the harbor–praying for safe passage and bountiful catches for the 2024 season.

In 2023, more than 150 fishing boats and vessels were blessed! So, a lot has changed since Destin was a quaint fishing village. And, that’s what makes continuing this unique tradition so special. It serves to remind us of the significant role that fishermen have played and continue to play in our beloved Destin community. As always, Thursday’s Blessing of the Fleet is hosted by Immanuel Anglican Church. Immanuel is excited to team with other area churches who share the vision of preserving Destin’s character as a faith-and-family-oriented community.

To Pre-Register Your Vessel: If you and your vessel make your living on the sea and would like to receive a blessing, please register your watercraft by emailing immanuel@iacdestin.org, or by calling the church at 850-837-6324 with your vessel’s name, captain’s name, mailing address, email address and phone number.

For more information on the Blessing of the Fleet, visit iacdestin.org/special-events/blessing-of-the-fleet, contact Immanuel Anglican Church at immanuel@iacdestin.org or 850-837-6324. Immanuel Anglican Church is located at 250 Indian Bayou Trail in Destin, just north of the Nancy Weidenhamer Dog Park in Destin.
Never doubt that your prayers on behalf of our coveted city are to no avail. We have and continue to witness the blessing of favor in our small paradise. Could it be that Destin has been dubbed the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” because, simply, it is SO “blessed?”