Priests bless boats at the annual Flotilla celebration

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 8, 2001

LAKE ST. JOHN, La. – In the words of the Rev. Anthony Dharmaraj &uot;everybody needs a blessing.&uot;

Dozens of boats and their passengers received such a blessing Saturday during the Blessing of the Flotilla on the Lake St. John.

&uot;Bless you,&uot; said the reverend of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Ferriday, while sprinkling, and in some cases dumping, passengers with holy water.

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&uot;Yes, you need more than that,&uot; he shouted to some passengers surprised at the size of their &uot;blessing.&uot;

The annual event includes a boat parade on the lake with many boats riding by the priest to be blessed. Some were decorated in patriotic or non-patriotic themes and were judged for their creativity.

Fifty-three boats entered in the contest with a takeoff of the Sammy Kershaw song &uot;Queen of My Double Wide Trailer&uot; being named as the overall winner. It was entered by Paul Hammett and Dee Horton.

The residences of the Price and Mulholland families won first place in the pier contest with their Hawaiian theme.

Other boats entered in the contest included such themes as Rock’n Robin, Wet &uot;Steel&uot; Magnolias, a gondola, the Lake St. John Volunteer Fire Department, Chip and Dales, the O’Fisha Royal Court and the U.S. Secret Service.

Fifth-three boats and 23 piers registered to be judged during the event.

&uot;It’s just fun to see everybody put their best creative efforts into it,&uot; said Ken Bryson, who watched the parade with his young son, Ken Bryson Jr.

Dharmaraj also invited a group of friends from Baton Rouge to watch him administer the blessings.

These included K. Ramanathan who said the event helped him relieve stress while allowing him to enjoy the outdoors.

&uot;It’s great – nice day to be here,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s beautiful.&uot;

Ramanathan also attended last year’s Blessing of the Flotilla and had been looking forward to this year.

Ronnie Wisenor, of the Spokane Resort Motel and Marina, said he appreciated the participation in this year’s event.

&uot;This has been a good deal. It really has,&uot; he said. &uot;We have had a (very) good flotilla this year.&uot;