A greasy pole contest
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Saturday August 13, 2011

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A "greasy pole" contest
Top image: his photo is taken in the park in San Pedro in the eighties during some kind of celebration... The pole is "greased" with something to make it slippery and 'teams' try to climb up it, climbing over each other and of course falling off.† The team that gets hold of something that's been attached to the top is the winner. Hilarious when you're there...

Photograph by Kay Scott

Greasy Pole at the pier (Big Wharf) in Punta Gorda, late 1970s.

Arlette Wade Sheppard: It was a dangerous sport! I remember holding my breath and hoping the game would end without casualties.

Charley Sanchez: Excitement overload, lots of laughter a fun day out.

Robert Pennell II: At some point it was changed from the sea to the land; the pole was slung vertically from a hole in the ground and people figured it was best to form teams and construct a human ladder with the lightest person climbing. From what I understood, this was the way in the rural and towns/villages that had no sea. Whatever the case, itís still is being done that way here. On a related note, the Big Wharf became off limits to casual visitors over the years with now itís totally off limits due to security reasons. The security reasons started after 9/11Ö Mi-Rong was the best.

Albert Johnson: The Augustine brothers always got d better part of dat sport. Miround and Kelvin.

Heather Reusser Telschow: That was very exciting to watch and also frightening to watch! The pole was soo slippery with grease as the contestant worked very hard climbing to get to the end where the bag was dangled by a rope over the sea. They could slip and fall at any moment any which way into the sea. It was amazing to watch!!

Arzu Raymond: Celso Ramirez my cousin from Puerto Barios won the prize for this 3 times. The prize was always a bag of ham dangling on a foot of rope

Greasy Pole was a popular and competitive annual sporting event at the pier in PG as part of the March 9th Baron Bliss Day holiday activities. The two 1979 pictures below show then teenager Leon Cabral as a brave and impressive competitor against adult men as he tried to maintain balance walking and crawling on the heavily greased pole to obtain the coveted prize. It was a fun sport, but very dangerous at the same time. It took grit and total concentration to be successful. It is no longer around since Big Wharf was closed from public access.

Above three photographs by Kathryn Staiano-Ross

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