How to climb the greased pole at the Italian Market Festival

May 18, 2018 202

BY: Bethany Ao

When the Eagles won the Super Bowl in February and Villanova took home the NCAA championship last month, Philadelphians shocked the world with their gravity-defying ability to scramble up poles greased with Crisco and hydraulic fluid. But what most people outside Philadelphia don’t know is that climbing greased poles is practically embedded in Philly culture.

Climbing a greased pole, or Albero della Cuccagna to Italian speakers, is the centerpiece of the annual Italian Market Festival that runs from Fitzwater to Wharton streets on Ninth Street Saturday and Sunday. After a hiatus that spanned two decades, the famed pole returned in 2016.

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