2013-07-04 / Front Page

Blessing of the Fleet Well Received at Les Cheneaux

Boaters Make a Day of It With Parade
By Paul Gingras


At left: The participation of these children helped make this entry a favorite in a parade at Cedarville Bay Sunday, June 30. They are being towed by “The Dugout,” a colorful vessel that won Cutest Boat, offered by Becky Stoll of South Lyon. The parade was part of the first Blessing of the Fleet at the Les Cheneaux Islands Sunday, June 30. At left: The participation of these children helped make this entry a favorite in a parade at Cedarville Bay Sunday, June 30. They are being towed by “The Dugout,” a colorful vessel that won Cutest Boat, offered by Becky Stoll of South Lyon. The parade was part of the first Blessing of the Fleet at the Les Cheneaux Islands Sunday, June 30. “It’s the nature of the water. You’re connected to God. Whenever fishing, hunting, or boating, you’re connected to God’s creatures,” said Father Janusz Romanek of Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, keynote speaker at the Blessing of the Fleet Sunday, June 30, at the waterfront in downtown Cedarville.

Standing at a specialized podium, its contours designed to form the bough of a watercraft, Fr. Romanek delivered one message to two gatherings: one seated before him at the shore of Lake Huron, the other floating on the waves nearby, a local armada that converged to receive a timehonored blessing for safety and enjoyment on the water.


Ending a colorful boat parade Sunday, June 30, at Cedarville, Julie Smith’s Yooper boat pulls up at the Cedarville Marine gas dsock on Cedarville Bay. Ending a colorful boat parade Sunday, June 30, at Cedarville, Julie Smith’s Yooper boat pulls up at the Cedarville Marine gas dsock on Cedarville Bay. Offered for the first time at the Les Cheneaux Islands, the event drew people of faith and boating enthusiasts, who celebrated their heritage together under the sun, and on the water, on what many called “a perfect day.”

A cannon blast began the program, followed by words by organizer Patty Frazier of the Les Cheneaux Islands Association.

As members of the U.S. Coast Guard stood in formation, Ms. Frazier introduced area religious leaders who addressed the multi-denominational gathering. Each offered prayers for boaters, words of wisdom for those who traverse the water, and encouragement for everyone who attended.


At right: Seaman Zakery Kilpatrick of United States Coast Guard Station St. Ignace prepares to place a ceremonial wreath on Lake Huron on Cedarville Bay Sunday, June 30. A symbol to honor all who have passed away on the water, the wreath is part of the first Blessing of the Fleet at the Les Cheneaux Islands. At right: Seaman Zakery Kilpatrick of United States Coast Guard Station St. Ignace prepares to place a ceremonial wreath on Lake Huron on Cedarville Bay Sunday, June 30. A symbol to honor all who have passed away on the water, the wreath is part of the first Blessing of the Fleet at the Les Cheneaux Islands. Reverend Breanne Johnson of Bethel Lutheran Church spoke first, followed by Reverend Jeff Meyers of First Union Church, and Reverend Judith Arnold of Presbyterian Church.

Fr. Romanek gave the official Blessing of the Fleet.

“This is the ultimate opportunity to be part of a community event that represents my faith,” said co-organizer Brianna Freel, who has attended First Union all of her life.

Ms. Freel was one of several participants who said the best aspect of the Blessing of the Fleet was the opportunity for several denominations to come together and offer an event that “combines what we love to do.”


Leonard Duke of Raber won in the Most Patriotic division for his colorful vessel at a parade following the Blessing of the Fleet at Cedarville Sunday, June 30. Leonard Duke of Raber won in the Most Patriotic division for his colorful vessel at a parade following the Blessing of the Fleet at Cedarville Sunday, June 30. She added that rarely does the boating community assemble for an occasion on their beloved watercraft.

“The water means so much to so many people,” she said. “Fishing, recreation, childhood memories are formed here.”

The Islands Association seeks to promote safety on the waves.

The Islands Association is in its 90th year of service, announced president Diane Patrick, speaking from the Cedarville Marine gas dock. The association was formed to place navigational aids on area waters, helping boaters steer clear of shoals, rocks, and other dangers.

“It’s always good to come together,” said Rev. Arnold. “What better way than to bless a fleet.”


Blessing boaters for safety on area waterways at the Les Cheneaux Islands, four religious leaders spoke at the 2013 Blessing of the Fleet at Cedarville Sunday, June 30. Pictured (back, from left) are Father Janusz Romanek of Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, Reverend Jeff Meyers of First Union Church, Reverend Breanne Johnson of Bethel Lutheran Church, and (front) Reverend Judith Arnold of Presbyterian Church. Blessing boaters for safety on area waterways at the Les Cheneaux Islands, four religious leaders spoke at the 2013 Blessing of the Fleet at Cedarville Sunday, June 30. Pictured (back, from left) are Father Janusz Romanek of Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, Reverend Jeff Meyers of First Union Church, Reverend Breanne Johnson of Bethel Lutheran Church, and (front) Reverend Judith Arnold of Presbyterian Church. In her 11 years in the area, Rev. Arnold said she knows of no other event that has drawn area churches together.

“It’s perfect,” she said. “The marina, the fishermen, the boaters. It’s excellent.”

Mike Freel of Cedar Ridge Boat Works designed the specialized podium. It was a project he considered to be an inspiring honor, especially given that the Blessing of the Fleet is intended to continue year after year.


At a colorful boat parade just after the Blessing of the Fleet at Cedarville Bay Sunday, June 30, South Lyon resident Becky Stoll’s vessel won Cutest Boat, in one of three divisions offered by the Les Cheneaux Islands Association. It is entitled “The Dugout.” Not pictured is a small watercraft, filled with children, towed by the vessel. At a colorful boat parade just after the Blessing of the Fleet at Cedarville Bay Sunday, June 30, South Lyon resident Becky Stoll’s vessel won Cutest Boat, in one of three divisions offered by the Les Cheneaux Islands Association. It is entitled “The Dugout.” Not pictured is a small watercraft, filled with children, towed by the vessel. A member of First Union for 25 years, he explained that he is an avid boater, and a person of strong Christian faith.

“We live in a very unique community,” he said. “Boating is very important. It’s awesome to combine boating and area churches this way.”

Echoing the thoughts, Rev. Johnson said community involvement made the event work.

“It’s unity,” she said. “Merging culture and churches.”

Following the blessing, members of the Coast Guard laid a wreath on the waves in memory of all who have perished on the water.

The Blessing of the Fleet was followed by a jovial parade of decorated vessels. Three received prizes by the Islands Association.

The grand prize went to South Lyon resident Becky Stoll for “The Dugout,” which won in the Cutest Boat division.

Leonard Duke of Raber won in the Most Patriotic division for his colorful vessel.

Steve Wells of Avon, Ohio, won Most Creative for his vessel entitled “Noah’s Ark.”

Industrial arts students at Les Cheneaux Community Schools contributed by producing three awards shaped in the form of wooden boats, pointing to another major event for the area, the upcoming Les Cheneaux Islands Antique Wooden Boat Show Saturday, August 10, in Hessel.

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