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NEW ORLEANS – Crowds continue to grow as the annual Greasing of the Poles commences at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans!
In a special 50th Anniversary Celebration, this year’s theme, “Hail to Half a Century!” pays homage to the landmark hotel and its distinguished role in the celebration of Mardi Gras.
Located at the award-winning, resort-style, luxury hotel at 300 Bourbon Street, special guests and event participants gathered to take part in the celebration.
Greasing of the Poles is considered by many to be the French Quarter’s official kickoff to Mardi Gras weekend.
The ritual originated nearly half a century ago, when the Royal Sonesta New Orleans would grease the building’s support poles, to deter overzealous revelers from shimmying up to the coveted balcony space.
Now, the practice has evolved into a star-studded and music-filled event, even spawning its own international fan club that faithfully hails from Switzerland each year to participate.
This year, visitors were encouraged to celebrate the golden anniversary occasion by dressing up as Greek gods and goddesses.
Renowned actor, author, and tastemaker Bryan Batt led the event as master of ceremonies.
This year’s festivities included Carnival royalty from the Krewe of Zulu and Krewe of NOMTOC, appearances by New Orleans songbird Robin Barnes, the Brass-A-Holics, Leroy Jones and the Original Hurricane Brass Band.
Special guests from The Merry Antoinettes, The Pussyfooters, the Oui Dats de la Nouvelle-Orléans and the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale also joined in on the festivities.
This year, the following contestants participated in the competition: From Crescent City staple Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, Ashley Hansen; entertainment entrepreneur and extraordinaire Desiree Ontiveros of Badass Balloon Co.; TV personality and founder of Footprints to Fitness wellness company April Dupré; and James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Devillier.