NEW ORLEANS -- During all the Mardi Gras paryting on Bourbon Street, how do the hotels make sure that people don't climb the poles to get onto the balconies? They grease the poles!
"Greasing of the poles was born out of necessity. Our balconies around the hotel are some of the most treasured places to be in the city, and we discovered that people will do whatever they can to get there, which includes climbing up," Alfred Groos, general manager of Royal Sonesta New Orleans, said.
Keeping the party people off the poles and balconies is why they do it.
Michael Warren in the engineering and maintenance department at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans gets the greasing done.
"It gets kind of messy. We do all the poles on Bienville, Bourbon, and Conti Streets. There are about 40 poles. We grease the poles from about the 6 foot mark all the way up. We use a special blend of Royal Sonesta petroleum jelly," he said.
If it rains, the team has to go back out after the rain to re-grease the poles, and they usually do it again on Lundi Gras right after the wild parade weekend, because a lot of the grease wears off.
This tradition has even become an event and competition. For nearly 50 years, local celebrities get in on the greasing and grease the poles the Friday before Mardi Gras.
"You have people that want to jump up and grab onto the poles, and they slip down. They get upset when they can't get up there," Warren said.
The 48th annual "Greasing of the Poles" will take place this Friday, February 9th at 10 a.m. The celebrity competitors are: News with a Twist Host Tamica Lee; "The Songbird of New Orleans" Robin Barnes; Compere Lapin Chef Nina Compton, and singer Amanda Shaw.
News with a Twist Reporter Kenny Lopez will be a judge of this competition, and actor Bryan Batt will be the emcee for this Tricentennial celebration.