An estimated crowd of around 24,000 people descended on the Sydney Fish Market to witness the annual Blessing of the Fishing Fleet last Sunday – and it was a very Italian celebration.
While the day was full of activities and celebrations for visitors, tourists and families the highlight was the procession of the Madonna – a replica statue of Santa Maria Di Porto Salvo, Protectress and Guardian of Seafarers and Fishermen, commissioned by the Association Bagnara Calabra.
Along with the local fishermen and the Association, Sydneysiders watched as the Madonna was processed throughout Sydney Fish Market.
The 200kg statue was then carried through the arcade and carpark to the end of the wharf where it sat while each of the fishing boats were individually blessed by Father Pierluigi Passoni, Parish Priest based at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Following the procession and blessing, speeches were delivered by a range of dignitaries, including NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
After the official procession and speeches everyone sat back on the boardwalk, enjoying the entertainment and some fresh seafood in the sun.
Entertainment on the day dancers, musicians and singer including Grant Galea, Adam Scicluna and Nick Bavarelli entertain the crowds. The ever-popular spaghetti-eating competition saw contestants get messy with this traditional Italian dish; the winner defeated his plate of pasta in less than 40 seconds.
Visitors also had the opportunity to enjoy participating in a prawn peeling competition.
Paul Bagnato, a local fisherman, and member of the Association Bagnara Calabra hosted a demonstration of the traditional skills of working in the fishing fleet such as fish net-mending and rope-splicing in the afternoon.
Organisers hope even more people, especially families, will attend next year’s event.