A total of 1,786 degrees were awarded during the UL Lafayette’s 161st Commencement ceremonies Friday at the Cajundome and Convention Center.
Clyde the Crawfish’s goose was cooked.
But a reprieve from Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser spared the crustacean a fate that befalls many a mudbug this time of year. During a ceremony Tuesday at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Clyde received a pardon that freed him, according to the proclamation, “from being served at any boil, in étouffées, po-boys” or other dishes.
Clyde’s clemency carries with it the promise of a long life in a state park near Abbeville, La., where he “shall be free from water any hotter than what is found in the beautiful swamps and bayous of Louisiana” to live unaccompanied by “any spices, potatoes, onions or garlic.”
Clyde’s new home at Palmetto Island State Park isn’t far from his birthplace, a crawfish farm near Kaplan, La. A police escort ferried Clyde to UL Lafayette’s campus, and farm owner Barry Toups carried the guest of honor in a red-rimmed crawfish trap to the Student Union porch.
There, with Cypress Lake, a two-acre managed wetland serving as the ceremony’s backdrop, Clyde waited in an aquarium to clinch his freedom. But first, he received some parting advice from Dr. Joseph Savoie, University president.
“Don’t make any stops between campus and your new home. In some parts of south Louisiana, crawfish pardons don’t hold much water – but boiling pots do.”
This is the third year the Louisiana Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, which Nungesser oversees, has pardoned a crawfish to promote the state seafood industry and to celebrate crawfish harvesting – and eating – season. The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board also sponsored the event.
“What better way to celebrate our culture and heritage than to grant Clyde his freedom before he ended up on a tray in a restaurant or a backyard boil,” Nungesser said.
Last year’s ceremony spared Emile, named for Emile Zatarain Sr., whose eponymous New Orleans company introduced crawfish seasoning mixes in the 1920s.
Clyde is named for Dr. Clyde Rougeou, the University’s fourth president who served from 1966 to 1974. Nungesser presented the late president’s daughter-in-law, Debbie Rougeou, with a framed copy of the proclamation during Tuesday’s ceremony.
Photo caption: Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser greets Clyde the Crawfish on Tuesday during a pardoning ceremony at UL Lafayette. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)