BREAUX BRIDGE, La. – Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, along with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, granted an official pardon to Firmin (FUR-men) the Crawfish during the 7th Annual Pardoning of the Crawfish event. Parc Des Ponts Breaux along Bayou Teche in Breaux Bridge was the site of this year’s event, which is uniquely Louisiana. Started in 2017 by Lt. Governor Nungesser and held on the first Tuesday following Mardi Gras, this annual pardoning celebrates crawfish season in Louisiana and across the Gulf South.
“Louisiana is the largest domestic producer of crawfish, producing about 150 million pounds every year. It only seems fitting that we would pardon a crawfish in Breaux Bridge, the Crawfish Capital of the World. At least this little guy will be saved from ending up on someone’s plate during the Crawfish Festival in May or on restaurant tray or in a backyard boil. In true Louisiana fashion though, we had to have a party complete with music, food, family, friends while we bestowed his pardon,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “No matter where you go in Louisiana, you can find something that will Feed Your Soul, from our culture and arts to our cuisine and history.””
The lucky crustacean is named “Firmin” in honor of Firmin Breaux who built the first footbridge across Bayou Teche to help make crossing the bayou easier for family and neighbors. This bridge became known as “Breaux’s Bridge” and would eventually be the name of the city officially founded by his daughter-in-law Scholastique Breaux nearly 30 years later.
Firmin Breaux and his family, along with many other Acadians, were deported from Nova Scotia to Boston during the expulsion of 1755. Breaux arrived in the area in early 1765, becoming one of the largest property owners by 1786. He built the first footbridge across Bayou Teche in 1799, a suspension bridge stabilized by huge pilings on either side and tied to large live oak trees. Directions for getting around would often tell people to “go to Breaux’s bridge.” This would become the name of the present day city.
“As the center of the crawfish universe, we are very much aware of the importance of this small crustacean to Breaux Bridge and Louisiana, as well as to all who have the pleasure of feasting on them,” said Breaux Bridge Mayor Ricky Calais. “The community of Breaux Bridge – the Crawfish Capital of the World – is excited to host this year’s Pardoning of the Crawfish to give Firmin his much deserved freedom. Live long, Firmin!”
Laci Laperouse, St. Martin Parish Tourism Commission Executive director added, “There is no better place in Louisiana to pardon this year’s very lucky crawfish, Firmin, than Breaux Bridge, Crawfish Capital of the World, St. Martin Parish!”
In keeping with tradition, Barry Toups, owner of Crawfish Haven and Mrs. Rose’s Bed & Breakfast in Kaplan, caught and selected the guest of honor for his reprieve. Firmin the Crawfish was then transported to Parc Des Ponts Breaux along the Bayou Teche where he was the king of his own procession to his regal habitat. Lt. Governor Nungesser bestowed the official pardon upon Firmin, delivering an official proclamation to the St. Martin Parish Tourism Commission and the City of Breaux Bridge to mark the event.
To make this event more special for the guest of honor, festival queens from around the state made their way to Breaux Bridge to witness Firmin get his freedom. Additionally, the students of St. Bernard School made crawfish decorations and marched to the ceremony with Firmin while waving crawfish flags and wearing crawfish beads.
Following his pardoning, the Louisiana Office of State Parks transported Firmin to Lake Fausse Point State Park in St. Martinville, Louisiana, where he will live out the rest of his days burrowing in the mud, swimming in the bayou, and making the state park his new home.