Hundreds inaugurate new Bucktown Bash amid fisherman concerns - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Hundreds inaugurate new Bucktown Bash amid fisherman concerns

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Some of the vessels taking part in the Blessing of the Fleet Some of the vessels taking part in the Blessing of the Fleet
Wet Willie, performing at Bucktown Bash (photo by Mike Schaefer) Wet Willie, performing at Bucktown Bash (photo by Mike Schaefer)
U.S. Navy Band, performing at Bucktown Bash (photo by Mike Schaefer) U.S. Navy Band, performing at Bucktown Bash (photo by Mike Schaefer)
Metairie, La. -

For the first time in 33 years, a fishing tradition returned to Bucktown. The Blessing of the Fleet is back this Fourth of July, and fishermen say they need divine help now, more than ever.

A fishing fleet that used to reside on the 17th Street canal, where the pumps and floodgates now close off the lake, has set up shop at a new marina, gussied up for the holiday. The new marina off old Hammond Highway now hosts a new Fourth of July event, featuring five bands and the seafood that's made Bucktown famous.

Bucktown fishermen are back, and proud to re-establish a Blessing of the Fleet that's been missing since for 44 years.

"If we keep it up, we'll have a bigger one every year," said long-time fisherman Tony Buffone.

At one time, over a dozen restaurants lined the shores of Bucktown and West End, but now many are gone and seafood is scarce.

"We used to use 100 traps," said fisherman Norman Bordes. "Now they use have thousands of traps, and it's depleting the lake."

Some blame the closure of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet for blocking saltwater, while others blame oil spills for an absence of crabs and other seafood in Lake Pontchartrain.

"We don't know now what's going to happen," said Buffone.

But the fleet is back, and the fishermen hope that Father Ryan's blessing will help.

The "Miss Agnes" is symbolic of what the Bucktown fleet has been through in recent years, and she too has had to make some adjustments. This large shrimp boat is now full of life, though given up for dead after Katrina.

"It was upside down with the rigging on Bayou Bienvenue, and it made the papers," said Bordes.

Thursday, sorting tables on the "Miss Agnes" are filled with boiled shrimp for a big patriotic party.

Korean War vet Jim Hoban is alright too, as long, as he's got his music. Hoban enjoyed the music of the group Gal Holiday while nearby.  

"New Orleans [is] one of the greatest places in the world. You got the music, the food and the people," said Hoban.

Organizers say they hope to make the Bucktown Bash an annual Fourth of July event.

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