MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Sunday marks the 18th year for the ceremonial opening day of boating season in Muskegon.

“The boaters are ready. There are a lot of people that are excited about this year,” Roger Zuidema, director of Muskegon Boat Life, said.

Some boaters have already been out on the lake this month but Sunday is more than just a celebration. It’s a day to pray for the safety of those who will be out on the lake. According to the Department of Natural Resources, drowning is the cause of death in 75% of boating-related fatalities.

Boaters are hoping for an accident-free yet memorable season.

“West Michigan is a great place to live. We live through the winter to enjoy the summer and we are very excited to be back in season again, get out on the water and experience what West Michigan has to offer,” Matt Powell said.

To celebrate, boaters will parade down the Muskegon Channel following Muskegon’s Cruise Ship the Aquastar and the Muskegon County’s Marine Sheriff boats. 

Once in the South Breakwater Cove, a ceremonial spray will wash down the lighthouse, getting the winter dust off and opening the season in style. 

Boaters will then pass by the Aquastar as a priest blesses the boats for a safe boating season before passing under the sheriff’s marine boat spray for the final blessing.

“If you are a land lover if you would meet at The Deck or out on the boardwalk, that’s a great place to watch the washing of the lighthouse and the blessing of the boats,” Zuidema said.