Passy Pete, the city's season-prognosticating lobster, shocked a crowd gathered at Heritage Park on Labor Day by predicting an early start to winter.

About 100 people gathered at the park Monday morning as the "Belfast Barons" — a group of local business owners and city officials dressed in top hats and tuxedo T-shirts — marched down to the beach behind the park, hauled in a lobster trap bearing Passy Pete, and to the strains of the B52's "Rock Lobster," presented it with two scrolls.

In the first three years of the annual event, Pete had always picked the scroll reading that summer would continue for another six weeks. So, by 2018, it seemed that everyone was in on the joke — a lighthearted denial of the end of summer and a nudge to shoulder-season shoppers.

One attendee teased that both scrolls probably said the same thing.

When presiding baron David Crabiel read the pronouncement, a wave of "Whoa!" went over the crowd, followed a mutterings of disappointment. "He probably read the Farmer's Almanac," one attendee said.

Another said he would have thrown Passy Pete back into the harbor after a such a prediction. "I'd throw him back and get a new Passy Pete," the man said.

The Groundhog Day-based tradition is now in its fourth year, and so far the city's crustacean oracle has yet to be wrong.

After the event, Crabiel, who cooked up the Passy Pete concept with his business partner David Brassbridge as a fun community event, said that the lobster really does pick the scroll. In past years, the process left some room for interpretation, he said. But on Monday, Pete was apparently decisive about the onset of winter.

"Usually it's which one he's closer to," Crabiel said. "This year he grabbed it."