Capt. Bonny Millard of the FV San Juan tosses the commemorative wreath during the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial in Juneau on May 7, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Capt. Bonny Millard of the FV San Juan tosses the commemorative wreath during the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial in Juneau on May 7, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau holds annual Blessing of the Fleet

Juneau turned out to bless and honor its fishermen, both working and lost at sea or ashore.

On a brisk sunny morning, amid the keen and wail of the pipes, Juneau residents and visitors gathered for the 32nd annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial.

Capt. Bonny Millard of the FV San Juan delivered the wreath as the Rev. Gordon Blue of Holy Trinity Episcopal delivered the invocation and blessing.

“We are here to celebrate commercial fishing as a unique way of life,” said Carl Brodersen, who gave the dedication and led the ceremony. “We acknowledge those who still go down to the sea and make a living and the community that supports them.”

Attendees throw flowers during the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial in Juneau on May 7, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Attendees throw flowers during the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial in Juneau on May 7, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Dozens attended the ceremony, many carrying flowers to be cast onto the waters as the 251 names were read, including 15 who will be added permanently when the stone carver arrives in July, Brodersen said.

“Yonder is the great wide sea with its living things too many to number,” Blue said during the blessing. “Nature there moves the shapes and moves that leviathan.”

It was good to see the gradual return of the ceremony to normalcy, Brodersen said.

The commemorative wreath floats away from the FV San Juan during the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial in Juneau on May 7, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The commemorative wreath floats away from the FV San Juan during the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial in Juneau on May 7, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

“We’re definitely in a pandemic but this felt more normal,” Brodersen said. “We’ve done this in the driving rain. This is a lot easier on the bagpipers.”

The pipes and drums were provided by the City of Juneau Pipe Band. Brodersen also extended a hearty thanks to Uncruise and Juneau Docks and Harbors for standing off an UnCruise vessel which otherwise would have made maneuvering fishing vessels within the confines of the piers much more difficult.

James Lewis, Bob Bennett, Philip Allen Daniel, James E. Beaton, Rodney W. Risley, Duane R. Haffner, Mick A. Haffner, Kurt Damon Brodersen, Roy M. Smith, Bob Dickinson, Don Hiley, Michael ‘Mikey’ Sofoulis, Norval ‘Ole’ Nelson Sr., Gregory O’Claray and Earl S. McKinley are due to be added to the wall this summer.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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