This is a story about Jesus, Mafia and tourism.
All right, it’s not THE Jesus but a statue of Christ. Oh, and it’s not THE mafia, it’s the Deepwater Mafia, a spearfishing and diving club. But, if the group’s plan succeeds to place the statue atop a pogy boat in 80 feet of water in the Gulf off Mississippi, it could boost dive tourism.
The idea is modeled after the Christ of the Abyss, a bronze statue that sits near John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park off Key Largo, Florida. That statue, put there in 1965, is a replica of Il Cristo Degli Abissi, a sculpture placed off Genoa, Italy, in 1954 as a memorial to sailors lost at sea.
The Key Largo statue is quite the attraction. More than 30 small businesses offer glass-bottom boat tours, or scuba and snorkel excursions.
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“There are more and more divers down here (in Mississippi),” said Glenn Camplejohn, who is leading the project for the Mafia. “We want to do some monumental reefs and things to give them more things to enjoy.”
They’re asking for help from Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks, which for years has been building artificial reefs out of derelict ships and boats and salvaged concrete.
“We’re planning on getting that out there in July,” Camplejohn said of the statue. “We going to put it out there on Fish Haven 13. There’s a pogy boat out there and we’re going to put it on top of the wheelhouse, sit it up nice and high.
“There’s also an American flag out there that flies in the current. That statue, with the American flag in the background, is going to be very nice.”
How you can help
What: Mississippi Gulf Fishing Bank Reef Project
How: Donations are accepted via PayPal, credit or debit cards