MUSKEGON, Mich. — The "Blessing of the Boats" has marked the beginning of boating season in Muskegon on Memorial Day weekend for 15 of the past 16 years. Boaters take to the channel in droves to receive a blessing and witness the spraying of the lighthouses.
Lighthouse keeper Kimberly Lange says the day is a celebration, but it’s also meant to show appreciation both to the sheriffs that patrol the harbor and the lights that keep the shorelines visible.
“We’re loved by the city," Lange says. "Any time someone in the city of Muskegon sees a picture of either of our two lights, they know where they are.”
After the boat parade, a priest aboard the Aquastar gives a blessing over the boats and the waters for safety. The lighthouses are then sprayed down by the sheriff's department boats for cleaning.
“I wouldn’t call it superstitious, more passionate," says boater Roger Zuidema. "They like to clean their boats, and they like to make sure everything is perfect before they go out on the water.”
Superstition or not depends on who you ask...
“Those that show up for a blessing of the boats and believe in the washing of the light to keep its beacon shiny, yeah," Lange says, "there’s a superstition there.”
Boaters say the cleaning shows a respect for the lighthouse and the shores it protects. While the South Pierhead lighthouse is currently closed to visitors, they are hoping to be able to welcome people back inside this door some time in the next month.
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