PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Socks were burned and the fleet was blessed on Saturday to raise money and welcome boating season.
Saturday’s Blessing of the Fleet and Burning of the Socks also doubled as a fundraiser for Second Chance of Northwest Florida.
Panama City resident, April Preston, said she would never miss the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Burning of the Socks event.
“I would never miss it because I mean we just get so much joy and peace and the water is beautiful and everybody out here just gathers around and you just — it’s just awesome to be out here today,” Preston said.
Preston said she was happy to be able to come out and support Second Chance of Northwest Florida.
“We just love Panama City and we’re just here to support anything we can,” Preston said.
Religious leaders from various denominations came out to bless boaters in the marina and to wish them safety this boating season.
“It’s just a great time to wish them well as they go into the water fishing and especially those who make a living in the water — on the water,” said Second Chance President, Sherl Morden.
The Burning of the Socks comes from a tradition of fishermen coming off of their boats after a year of fishing, starting a fire and burning their socks so they can put on their sandals and walk into the Summer.
“We’ve picked up that tradition as have a lot of places that do a burning of the socks along the coast but anyway we’ve been doing that for several years we’re hoping to grow that,” Morden said.
Morden said all of the proceeds from Saturday went toward Second Chance and added they’re grateful for everyone who supports them and keeps the program going.
“You have to hustle sometimes to get the funds to keep going but we’ve done that writing grants and so forth so we appreciate all the people that come out to support us,” Morden said.
Panama City City Manager, Mark McQueen, said it’s important for the community to get back to its traditions after Hurricane Michael and the pandemic.
“It’s an incredible tradition in the St. Andrews community to be able to do this now overcoming the challenges of Hurricane Michael and of course the COVID experience we’re now able to get back to a little sense of normality,” McQueen said.
At Saturday’s event, it was announced second chance plans to permanently hold the event the Saturday after Mother’s Day in the coming years.