After nearly 20 years, the grease pole is back

May 21, 2016 1518

by Samantha Melamed

About 70 slippery pounds of lard are secured in five-gallon buckets in an undisclosed South Philadelphia location. It's physical proof that, after nearly two decades lost to history, the grease pole - Albero della Cuccagna to Italian speakers - is finally back.

The spectacle once was the centerpiece of the South Ninth Street Italian Market Festival: a 30-foot-tall beacon of steel and pig fat at Ninth and Montrose Streets, topped with meats, cheeses, and gift cards, tempting the brave, the drunk, and the temporarily insane to scramble up - and slide haplessly down. Things will be a little different this time, though: There will be liability waivers, an 18-and-older age limit, gymnastics landing mats, and, yes, Breathalyzers.

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