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Shrimper ready for Blessing
Looking at his office wall, Speedy Tostensen admires all the pictures of his shrimp boats.

Some are newspaper clippings in black and white. Others are photos in bright, vibrant colors that show off the fishing boats he decorated for special events such as the Blessing of the Fleet procession in East River Sunday.

All of the photos are from the past, including the Brunswick Spring Fiesta - a city-hosted festival held in the 1980s at Mary Ross Waterfront Park in conjunction with the annual Blessing of the Fleet.

Tostensen, owner of Poteet Seafood, 5067 Blythe Island Hwy., will have two commercial shrimp boats in Brunswick's 75th Annual Blessing of the Fleet: the Miss Alena and Captain Jack.

The Miss Alena will be the lead boat.

Both boats will be decorated with flags and will compete to win one of the prizes being offered to participants in the procession.

The event, slated for 3 p.m. Sunday in East River, can be viewed from Mary Ross Waterfront Park, at the corner of Bay and Gloucester streets in downtown Brunswick.

Tostensen hopes this year's blessing procession will be something close to what it used to be.

Even though it seems like the blessing's glory days are behind him, he feels the extra prizes being offered will attract more boats.

After failing to haul in a big load last year, Tostensen says he could use all the help he can get to ensure a safe and bountiful season.

"It's really to help the industry," Tostensen said. "It's been a real slow start to the shrimp season."

The fishing fleet will be blessed by the Rev. Gregory Hartmayer, bishop of the Diocese of Savannah, which includes Brunswick; the Rev. Chuck Henkle, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church; and the Rev. Wilfred Logsdon, former pastor of St. Francis Xavier. All will be aboard the Georgia Bulldog.

Mary Rocha, a member of the Blessing of the Fleet Committee, has been around the event for more than 35 years. She hopes for a good turnout of boats Sunday.

"We never know how many boats will be there," Rocha said. "It may be five or six, but we're hoping for 10."

Earlier Sunday, following the 11 a.m. church service at St. Francis Xavier Church, the Knights of Columbus and members of the church congregation will parade a statue of Our Lady of Fatima around Hanover Square.

* Reporter Martin Rand III covers local news. Contact him at, on Facebook, or at 265-8320, ext. 324.

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