Mark Allen Walking for Loved Ones
Congratulations to Mark Allen, the 2014 Saturday Greasy Pole Champion! This was Mark’s first win, after 16 previous years of walking! Allen was walking for his cousin Peter “Black” Frontiero who has the second most titles of all time, with a total of nine wins.
Each year I, along with so many in our community, look forward to filming and photographing the greasy pole events. The determination on the men’s faces, the camaraderie, the ecstasy and pride in winning, the anguish of defeat, the hilarious costumes, and the Felliniesque antics combine to create a fabulous fiesta of stories and images.
The film opens at the childhood home of the Giambanco Family, with Sefatia leading the Greasy Pole Walkers and guests in the rallying “Viva San Pietro,” the cheer that is heard throughout the city during Saint Peter’s Fiesta. Giambanco sisters Marianne, Grace, Rosaria, and Sefatia continue with their mother Rosalia’s, “Lia’s” custom of feeding the Greasy Pole Walkers dinner before the walk. The tradition began years ago when their brother, Anthony “Matza” Giambanco, began walking. Sefatia explains that Lia had always held a huge family feast with relatives from all over the country attending. The first year her brother walked he told his mom he couldn’t eat because he was meeting everyone. She said I don’t care; you have to eat, and told him to bring everyone back to their home. That was back in 1978!
Next the Walkers head over to rally at the Gloucester House, where they greet Lenny shouting his name over and over, to a packed restaurant full of guests. Several more stops are made along the way before the next rally at the Saint Peter’s Club. Before departing for the greased pole platform, the Walkers make one last stop to say a prayer to Saint Peter, and perhaps pin a necklace or coin to the statue.
With special thanks and appreciation to Nicky Avelis and all the Greasy Pole Walkers for allowing me to ride on the boat. It went by way too fast! And thank you to the skipper for giving me a ride back to shore.
With thanks and appreciation to Rosaria, Sefatia, Marianne, and Grace for inviting me to come film the Walker’s rally at your welcoming Fiesta Sunday Feast!