BELMAR, NJ — Belmar Mayor Brian Magovern wasn’t going to let the rough ocean surf and high winds get in his way yesterday of pardoning “Larry the Lobster” to begin the New Jersey Seafood Festival.

Instead, Magovern moved the May 18 event from the Fifth Avenue beach to the quieter waters of the Shark River Inlet. Accompanied by a small group of borough officials and others, the lobster was placed among the rocks of the jetty and set free — beginning what Magovern hopes will become an annual tradition of the popular three-day festival.

“May you never smell melted butter, have your claws bound by rubber bands or nor have your tail appear in the daily special of a restaurant’s menu,” Magovern read in a proclamation giving Larry his newfound freedom.

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While the 6-pound lobster was donated by Brandl restaurant, a member of the Belmar Water Rescue Team helped ensure the lobster was safely released into the waters — after the rubber bands were clipped, of course.

The mayor’s pardon generated the following statement from PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman: “Just as humans do, lobsters feel pain and fear, have unique personalities, and value their own lives. No one wants to be boiled a live, and PETA is calling on people everywhere to pardon all lobsters by keeping them off their plates."

Meanwhile, festival organizers are hopeful Larry’s luck will rub off on them, as the rain is expected to continue through today, May 19. But the show will go on, as they say— rain or shine —from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow, May 20 at Silver Lake Park, Fifth and Ocean Avenue.

The festival features an abundance of seafood selections and other fare favorites dished out by food vendors, as well as live music, a beer tent and wine garden, contests, kids’ activities and craft vendors.

While there will be limited parking around the venue itself, free parking will be available at the municipal parking lot at Fifth and River Road, and Dempsey Park on 16th Avenue.

Free shuttles will run through Belmar continuously on both days with stops at the Belmar Marina and Belmar train station, delivering visitors to the end of Silver Lake at Fifth Avenue, adjacent to the festival.

Presented by the Belmar Tourism Commission, admission is free. Pets are not permitted.

For updates, visit the New Jersey Seafood Festival’s Facebook page.

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