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Gulf shrimpers pray for good season despite oil

Aug 8, 2010 7:53:00 PM - thestate.com
Docked boats were bedecked with fluttering red, white and blue streamers and rainbows of balloons in a bayou-country, pre-shrimp season tradition known as the "Blessing of the Boats."

On the menu? Heaping trays of barbecued chicken, smoked sausage and potato salad - but no crabs or shrimp.

Blame the BP oil spill. The company has plugged the leak and announced Sunday that cement sealing the busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico had hardened, clearing the path for the final phase of drilling a relief well.

The future isn't so clear for fishermen and their families seeking blessings for a bountiful harvest and divine protection from the water's dangers. They are wondering if the waters will ever be the same again.

"I've had ice chests of shrimp in my freezer all my life," said Dita Dehart, 70, a lifelong area resident who was working on desserts in a back room of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, which has hosted the blessing on Bayou Dularge for more than 50 years. "I have none now."

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