Greasing of the poles is a New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition that has a long and interesting history. The tradition involves lubricating the poles of lampposts, telephone poles, and other vertical structures along the parade route with a mixture of axle grease, shortening, and lard to make it difficult for revelers to climb them and retrieve thrown objects, such as toys, beads, and trinkets, which are thrown from the floats.
The tradition of greasing the poles has been around for over a century and is thought to have originated as a way to prevent people from climbing the poles and interfering with the parades. In the early days of Mardi Gras, the poles were not greased, and people would climb them to retrieve the thrown items or to get a better view of the parade. This often resulted in dangerous situations, with people falling or being injured as they tried to climb the slippery poles. In response, the city started greasing the poles to prevent people from climbing them.
The tradition of greasing the poles is one of the more unique aspects of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The custom is not practiced in any other city in the world, making it a truly unique and memorable aspect of the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. The tradition is also a testament to the city's ingenuity and resourcefulness, as they found a way to maintain the safety of parade-goers while also ensuring the continuation of a beloved and historic tradition.
The greasing of the poles is usually performed by city workers or volunteers. The mixture used for greasing the poles is a closely guarded secret, but it is said to be a mixture of axle grease, shortening, and lard, which makes the poles extremely slippery and difficult to climb. The poles are often greased the night before the parade, and the grease is left on until the end of the Mardi Gras season.
Despite the greased poles, many revelers still try to climb them, either out of curiosity, to retrieve thrown items, or to get a better view of the parade. In recent years, the city has implemented additional safety measures, such as installing barriers around the poles and increasing police presence, to prevent people from climbing the poles and ensure the safety of all parade-goers.
In conclusion, the tradition of greasing the poles is a unique and iconic part of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The tradition has a rich history and is a testament to the city's ingenuity and resourcefulness. Despite the challenges posed by the greased poles, the tradition continues to be a beloved and memorable aspect of the Mardi Gras celebration, and it is a tradition that will likely continue for many years to come.