Shawnee will celebrate the first “Blessing of the Boats” at 3 p.m. Friday, July 4, at Shawnee Twin Lakes. The ceremony will be led by the Rev. Clark Shackelford, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Shawnee. The blessing begins the Boat Parade, sponsored by the Shawnee Twin Lakes Association.


Shawnee will celebrate the first “Blessing of the Boats” at 3 p.m. Friday, July 4, at Shawnee Twin Lakes. The ceremony will be led by the Rev. Clark Shackelford, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Shawnee. The blessing begins the Boat Parade, sponsored by the Shawnee Twin Lakes Association.
Blessing of Boats is a centuries-old tradition that began in communities along the Mediterranean Sea. The first recorded boat blessing was in Portugal in 325 CE. When Europeans first came to America, they brought with them the practice of blessing boats. Boat blessings have been celebrated along the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico since the beginning of the 18th century. 
Included in the Blessing of Boats is a request for the safety of the sailors, a good catch from the sea and clean waters. Often, a wreath is thrown into the water to remember those who have died at sea.
In communities around the world, the Blessing of Boats is celebrated when the fishing, shrimping or boating season begins. Events attached to the celebration range from a simple ceremony to multi-day festivals that include contests, feasts, parades and dancing.