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All aboard for the Blessing of the Fleet

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Blessing of the Fleet, a day of colour and culture, in 2017. Photo: Patrick J Lee

One of the most colourful and spectacular events in the Catholic year is set to take place at the Sydney Fish Markets when the annual Blessing of the Fleet takes place – and everyone’s invited.

As a much-loved event in the local calendar, Sydney Fish Market will once again host the annual celebration on Sunday 23 September.

The Blessing of the Fleet is one of oldest traditions among fishing communities in the world. In Sydney, as in ports around the world, the community help bless the fishing fleet, praying for safe seafaring and a prosperous year ahead.

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Courtesy of the Association Bagnara Calabra, the statue of the Madonna – the Santa Maria Di Porto Salvo (Mary of Safe Ports or Safe Harbour) – is taken on a colourful procession around the site with a marching band, returning to the wharf to bless the decorated local fishing fleet.

Last year’s blessing was led by Fr Pierluigi Passoni, a priest stationed at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney.

With a stunning backdrop of Blackwattle Bay, the festa will then kick off in the afternoon with a ‘thankyou’ to the fishermen who work the often-dangerous ocean, followed by live entertainment, including the famous spaghetti eating competition for both adults and children.

For one day only the Market will open its Blackwattle Bay wharf for public access, housing a stage for entertainment, as well as plenty of seating, tables and umbrellas to enjoy the day beside the water, up close with the fishing fleet.

Market stalls will involve free face painting for the kids, as well as a presence from the Royal Australian Navy, an interactive display from local fishermen with fresh fish on display and net mending demos.

More information can be found on the Sydney Fish Market’s Facebook page.

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