KEMAH — Local shrimpers and boaters got a little touch of the divine on Sunday as the Clear Lake Elks Lodge held the 45th annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Kemah Boardwalk.

With the toss of the wreath into the waters neighboring the Boardwalk, and a reading of Matthew 8: 23-27 from The Rev. Paul Felix of Annunciation Catholic Church in Houston, a parade of brightly decorated yachts, shrimp boats and pleasure craft sailed past the crowds along the Boardwalk.

Meanwhile, a panel of judges watched, selecting the top craft for the parade’s awards.

A tradition that stretches back for centuries, the Blessing of the Fleet is a common ritual in seafaring communities. Catholic priests bless local ships and their crews, asking God to keep them safe during the year.

Kemah’s local tradition bestows its blessing on shrimp boats, a stalwart of the local fishing industry for decades.

Texas shrimp boats are expected to catch 26 million pounds of shrimp during the 2013-14 shrimp season, according to the Texas Shrimp Association.

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