BELFAST — In a world where weather forecasts are dominated by satellites and meteorologists, some rely on the predictions of animals. While many are familiar with Pennsylvanian Punxsutawney Phil, the prognosticating groundhog, who predicts whether there will be an early summer, fewer are familiar with Belfast’s very own larger than life weather predictor: Passy Pete, the clairvoyant crustacean who comes ashore in Belfast each Labor Day to determine whether there will be an early winter, or six more weeks of summer.
Named in honor of the Passagassawakeag River, which empties into Belfast Bay, this year marks the ninth Passy Pete observation. Baron Bob Adler said that to his knowledge Pete has been right with every single prediction. During the Covid years, the event was put on hold, but Passy Pete was still able to make his prediction sans crowd.
The event is brief, with visitors and residents gathering in Heritage Park to watch Passy Pete be pulled from the water and brought to the grassy event site. Pete is then presented with two scrolls, one for an early winter and one for an extended summer, whichever scroll Pete clasps is his prediction for the coming winter. This year, he has predicted an early winter, much to the chagrin of the gathered crowd.
After Passy Pete's prediction, and a few photo ops with the crowd, he is returned to the sea, his prophetic duties having been fulfilled for another year.
The slightly odd and entirely endearing tradition has brought yet another a touch of whimsy to Belfast, fostering a sense of togetherness and laughter as people come together to celebrate the impending seasonal change and community camaraderie.
While Passy Pete is one of Belfast’s eclectic characters, Belfast Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dorothy Havey pointed out that there are three seasonal celebrities who call Belfast home: The Joy Duck family, with one or more of the ducks typically appearing in late summer or early autumn; Passy Pete, who is celebrated every Labor Day, and Broke Neck Santa, who is a beloved Santa decoration with questionable neck placement, shows up in early winter.
This is only the third year for the mysterious ducks, and it is unknown whether the tradition will be continued each year.
With Passy Pete’s 2023 prediction made, the amazing crustacean has returned to the sea, but for those who missed him: there is always next year!
Erica Thoms can be reached at email@example.com