Town of Hempstead officials buttered up crustaceans in more ways than one at a local seafood spot Wednesday.
In an effort to promote the town’s lobster industry — and show some goodwill toward Long Island’s lobster population — Town Supervisor Anthony Santino pardoned and released 20-pound “Larry the Lobster” at Peter’s Clam Bar in Island Park.
Larry had lived in the restaurant’s fish tank for 30 years and according to officials is believed to be about 130 years old.
“We didn’t know what to do with Larry, he was so big,” restaurant owner Butch Yamali said. “We couldn’t possibly think of eating him — we were thinking of getting a leash for him, actually.”
Larry was released at 12:30 p.m., bound for the waters off the Atlantic Beach reef. Larry’s tank mates were not so lucky — a few were served to restaurant patrons during the pardoning event itself.
Officials honored Larry as “a living symbol of Hempstead’s seafaring, nautical heritage.”
“In Hempstead Town, with our cherished nautical heritage, we take our sea creatures very seriously,” Santino said.
Santino signed a ceremonial “pardon” document, blown up as a poster, before Councilman Anthony D’Esposito handed Larry over to Department of Conservation and Waterways officers.
Larry was given an escort from the restaurant back to the sea as officials called out “Bon voyage.”
It’s unclear how long Larry will get to enjoy his freedom.
According to the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, which studies American lobsters, scientists do not have a consistent method for measuring lobster age, though some methods have found that lobsters can live to about 100 years. The largest ever caught weighed 44.4 pounds, according to the state DEC.