One by one shrimp boats meandered by the pier for blessings of bountiful harvests and smooth seas while several hundred people craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the vessels as they floated by.

The parade of boats was part of the 27th annual Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival held Sunday at Memorial Waterfront Park in Mount Pleasant.

Rev. Len Williams, director of the Charleston Port & Seafarers' Society, gave each captain and his boat a unique blessing. For Michael Cobb, captain of Family Thing, Williams prayed for God to "show him which side of the boat to cast."

Brothers Paul and Mark Richardson got a blessing for a bountiful harvest and a safe return home.

A total of 11 boats passed by the pier for a blessing on Sunday. The event marks the start of shrimping season.

Throngs of people, several hundred deep, gathered on the pier to listen to the blessings and watch the decorated boats go by.

"There is such a sense of community," said Karen Peters who was among those who listened to the blessings. "These people, their whole family, their history, everything is in this industry."

Stacey Kinney said it was neat to see all the boats. She said she could really sense all of the "comaraderie" among the captains of each boat.

The camaraderie was especially evident when Rocky Magwood, whose boat Lady Eva sank in December, was raised and sank again under tow off the Isle of Palms, did the honors of tossing a memorial wreath into the Cooper River as part of the ceremony.

Magwood will be using his uncle Wayne Magwood's boat, the Winds of Fortune, this season.

The event allows local shrimpers to give back to their community, said emcee Tressy Magwood Mellichamp, whose cousin is Rocky Magwood.

"It touches all of their hearts to be here and support the community and see the community supporting them," she said.

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