The Italian Market is over 100 years old, making it the oldest market of its kind in the country. With such age comes tradition.
At the Italian Market Festival over the weekend, one of the long-standing traditions that had disappeared for 19 years made a reappearance. Festival-goers had the chance to sign up for a very slippery experience – the grease pole.
What is the grease pole, you ask? It’s a 30-foot-tall pole slathered in 16 lbs of lard. The goal is to climb the pole and win prizes.
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The pole last made an appearance in 1997, before the festival’s five-year hiatus. When it returned, the pole did not – until this year, creating a lot of buzz in the neighborhood of its origins. While meaning different things to different people, one constant was how it always brought the community together.
In the pole’s glory years, it was topped with cheeses, meats, and gift cards. On Saturday, a basket sat at the top containing 15 envelopes holding prizes ranging from $50 to $500 in cash, gift certificates, and a “free pass” to get to the head of the line on Christmas Eve at Isgro pastry shop on Christian Street.