DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The largest fishing fleet in North America has extra protection for this upcoming busy season. Nine pastors from four local churches stood on the docks of the harbor Friday blessing every boat that works in Destin waters.

The blessing is for more than just the fishing fleet welcoming hundreds of pontoons, cruising tiki’s, and sailboats that operate from the harbor.

Not close to 65, Christian Meyers has been to every blessing of the fleet since he was born. Now the captain of his own sailboat, the Spacedancer, Chris brought his wife Stephanie and 6-month-old son Elijah to participate in the long-standing tradition.

“So there are a lot of founding families and descendants of founding families here. For my family, we were one of the first people here coming up on almost 100 years, I think. It’s very important for our family so this is a dream come true.”

Chris runs the Spacedancer for East Pass Sailing Company out of one of the oldest dock locations on the harbor. The slip was once operated by his ancestors, one of the founding families of Destin, nearly 100 years ago.

“My grandparents ran the Lady Evanthia and that was a large party boat, deep-sea fishing vessel, and this dock right here on some of the old aerial photos of the harbor going back to the 50s and the 60s, that dock is there,” said Chris.

“You know, raising a family, doing such a founding family event, and being able to do it with a little one is really nice,” said Stephanie. “To add our recollection of the events into the entire timeline. And to the stories that the family passes down.”

As the boat passed by the decorated dock, pastors were heard praying over the Spacedancer. The religious leaders asked for crew and passengers to stay safe, and for amazing memories through the summer months and storm season.

“This is always the kickoff for this season coming up right before the Memorial Day weekend,” said Chris. “This is really just a local event bringing all the boats together. If this is Destin, this is as close to Destin as you can get.”

Local churches hosted a celebration after the blessing at Brotulas on the harbor. Food was available for donations and church bands performed worship songs for the public.

The blessing of the fleet happens every year on the Thursday before Memorial Day. Storms pushed it back to Friday for the 2022 event.

Throughout the week pastors blessed the marketplace and other areas hoping to bring safe crowds and good business to all residents and visitors.

To get ahold of Christian or Stephanie with East Pass Sailing Company, click here.