Greased pole is no match for Suffield team at Italian Festival

By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Mon., Aug. 8, 2011
Anthony Sperrazza climbed the human scaffolding to retrieve the $300 prize from the top of the greased pole. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.
Anthony Sperrazza climbed the human scaffolding to retrieve the $300 prize from the top of the greased pole. Photos by Jennifer Holloway.

“Champions aren’t made, they’re born in Suffield,” joked the winners of the greased pole contest. Five teams entered the competition at the 86th annual Italian Festival in Enfield on Sunday, Aug. 7, but only one would walk away with imported meats and cheeses, $300 cash and bragging rights. The honor and prizes went to a team of six from Suffield.

Ben Brown, Alex Guminiak, Anthony Sperrazza, Josh Severns, Tommy DeMaria and Alex Carroll credited the win to their camaraderie, teamwork and the crowd’s energy.

Team members work to build a ladder of sorts by standing on one another’s shoulders as they grip the greased pole as best they can. Each of the five teams scratched, stacked and shimmied their way up the telephone pole, which was greased with pipe soap, a biodegradable lubricant contestants could wash off easily.

“Each person has to hold their own weight,” said Drew Caronna, a veteran greased pole contestant. His team’s hope was that members could alleviate some of the weight from their base by bracing against the pole.

“Back pockets are essential for climbing,” he added. Caronna said bent knees also work well to create a stair effect.

One by one each team went up, socked feet shoving into pockets and faces grimacing against the pole, and one by one each team gave up, collecting the grease on their shirts as they slid down. When none of the five teams made it to the top, the competition entered round two.

For their first attempt, the Suffield team put four men up the pole before coming down. On their second attempt, they reached the top with five men. Before the contest, team members said their strategy was to go fast, “the quicker the better.” Speed seemed to help the team who hurried to put their scaffolding in place as Sperrazza clawed his way up, then fought the grease alone the last several feet. He did a few pull-ups at the top of the pole before unpinning the money and sliding down.

Though Caronna’s team lost, they plan to be back next year. “Training starts tomorrow,” he said.


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