Amid the cries of seagulls and purrs of boat motors, hundreds of Sneads Ferry residents gathered Saturday for the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the wildlife boat ramp on Fulcher Landing Road.
The ceremony was led by pastor Steve Allen and was intended to bring good luck to fisherman for the upcoming fishing season as well as honor those who lost their lives at sea. Allen was joined in prayer by church members, watermen and their families and a handful of politicians. As he lead the congregation in prayer and song, Allen also spoke into a marine radio so nearby vessels circling off the coast could be included.
“We come here today to thank God for his grace and his mercy and for him watching out for our little town,” Allen said. “We ask Him to truly bless this day and bless these men and women who have sacrificed so much to work and serve out there to provide for their families, to provide for others so they may have something to eat. God, may you watch over every one of them.”
The Blessing of the Fleet was made even more special this year with the simultaneous dedication of a newly built Fisherman’s Memorial and Walkway. The monument was organized and carried out by prospective Eagle Scout Joseph Stockton as his final project and consists of an etched granite block, landscaping and a memorial walkway.
“I’m really proud of the project and the way it turned out,” Stockton said. “I’m glad that it’s done because now I can finally become an Eagle Scout. I’m very grateful that all these people came out to be here today for the monument dedication and the Blessing of the Fleet.”
To fund the project, a limited number of commemorative paving bricks were made available to Sneads Ferry locals.
“I thought the fundraising was going to be a big issue with this project,” Stockton said. “I was really worried about how I was going to get enough money to make this work, but some miraculous way we were able to come up with all of the money in three days. That really blew my mind. I give a big thank you to all of those who helped me out.”
N.C. Sen. Harry Brown also attended to welcome the new memorial. The dedication carried additional weight for Brown, who is an Eagle Scout and who often visited his aunt in Sneads Ferry as a child.
“I’ve done a lot of ceremonies with Eagle Scouts in the past several years, but I can tell you that this monument Joseph has put together is probably the best one I’ve ever seen,” Brown said. “This is something that will be here forever, hopefully. It says a lot about Sneads Ferry’s heritage and really shows the heart of this community.”