Greasy pole or grease pole is a pole that has been made slippery and difficult to grip. It is the sport that involves staying on the greasy pole while traversing such a pole. This sporting event takes place around the world, mainly in the UK and Gloucester, Massachusetts
How it began:
The idea behind The Greasy Pole competition came from Sicily in the 1920s while Italians were immigrating to America. In Sicily, however, the object is to walk across a greased pole protruding from a platform about 200 ft from shore. This platform, depending on the tide, can be anywhere from 10–25 ft above the water. The pole, which hangs over the water, is around 40–45 feet long, and only about as wide as a standard telephone pole. This pole is then heavily greased with biodegradable axle grease mixed with anything from Tabasco sauce to laundry detergent, banana peels, and various other slippery objects. A red flag (or sometimes the Italian Flag with a red flag underneath it) is then nailed to the very end of the pole. The idea is to run out on the heavily greased pole and try to grab the flag before slipping and falling into the water. Somewhere between 30–50 men aging anywhere from 18–55 go out from Pavilion Beach in Gloucester and wait on the platform. Then they walk the pole one at a time in a pre-determined order as read off by “The Voice of the St. Peter’s Fiesta,” Sam Nicastro, (who also walks the pole on Friday while his brother Dominic takes over the announcing duties). Generally, the men come from large Sicilian families.