LAKE HOPATCONG – For the fourth year in a row, a fleet of boats bobbed out of a marina with an extra safety net around them.
The fourth annual Lake Hopatcong Blessing of the Fleet took place Saturday morning at Lakeland Marine Base at Nolan’s Point. The event, hosted by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 06-07 and the Lake Hopatcong Sail & Power Squadron, included patriotic music, a parade of boats, and some good old-fashioned maritime camaraderie.
“Every year, we get a few more boats out for this,” said Lorraine Cannata, immediate past flotilla commander of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. “It’s a nice, time-honored tradition and we’re glad to see so many people who come out to take part.”
The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition dating back hundreds of years to Mediterranean fishing communities, where the local priest offered a blessing over the fishing boats to ensure a safe and bountiful season. The decision at Lake Hopatcong to begin the ceremony came about when the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Sail & Power Squadron realized they were offering the same kinds of services, including safety courses and other educational opportunities for boaters. They decided an annual Blessing of the Fleet would be a good way to usher in boating season on the lake.
“It’s just a nice way for us to come together and make sure everybody stays safe,” said Annie Magliano, flotilla training officer.
Each boat passed the docks, where Father Vidal Gonzales, associate pastor at St. Therese’s Parish in Succasunna and soon to be administrator at St. Jude in Hopatcong, offered individual blessings and sprinkled the boats with holy water. Mount Arlington Mayor Art Ondish, himself a boater, was on hand for the ceremony, which he called a “nice tradition” at the lake.