Emile the Crawfish no longer in pinch after earning ceremonial pardon

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Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser granted Emile the Crawfish a ceremonial pardon on Tuesday at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to promote the state seafood industry and celebrate crawfish season. (Rachel Rafati / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Emile the Crawfish was transported from his home in a pond near Kaplan, La., to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Tuesday in a police car. He was brought to an area near Cypress Lake on campus in a wire mesh crawfish trap. He was plucked from the trap and deposited in a small aquarium.

The expressionless mudbug seemed unaware that his confinement would be short-lived or that the pardon he was about to receive from Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser meant he’d never be plunked in a pot of boiling water.

The “Pardoning of the Crawfish” ceremony began in 2017 to promote the state seafood industry and celebrate crawfish season. The University also hosted last year’s pardoning.

Emile’s reprieve came thanks to the Louisiana Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, both of which Nungesser oversees.

Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, told students, faculty and others who gathered at the event that “nothing pulls people together in south Louisiana quite like a crawfish boil, but it’s nice to know folks will gather to watch a fortunate crustacean get off the hook as well.”

Six hundred pounds of free, boiled crawfish were served following the ceremonial pardoning. The one lucky crawfish not heaped on a platter was named for J. Emile Verret, a 1905 graduate of the University who served as the state’s lieutenant governor from 1944-1948.

Emile – the crawfish, not the former lieutenant governor – officially earned his freedom with a proclamation that declared he be spared “the fate of being served in any boil, étouffé, po-boy or dish imagined by any chef…and shall be free from water any hotter than that found in the beautiful swamps and bayous of Louisiana.”

Clemency wasn’t the only thing the lucky crustacean received. He got a new home at Palmetto State Park near Abbeville, La. Emile was transported to the park following the ceremony to live out his days burrowing carefree in the mud.

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