By Times Staff
It was called the Greasy Pole Fall Classic — and there were some classic falls.
But a one-time benefit hosted by the St. Peter's Fiesta Committee at Gloucester High's Newell Stadium drew an estimated 1,000 spectators Saturday and some 90 walkers paid $25 apiece for the chance to walk the iconic Greasy Pole over dry land — and suspended from a flatbed truck.
Kyle Berry grabbed the flag to win the Bronze Round, Nick Avelis won the Silver round, and Joe DaSilva — who won the Friday round in the real Greasy Pole competition off Pavilion Beach at Fiesta last June — captured the flag to win the Gold Round on Saturday.
The walkers were divided into three groups, just like at Fiesta, when there are separate competitions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The real winner Saturday was the Fiesta Committee itself, which held the benefit to raise money toward its $85,000 project to reconstruct and restore the Greasy Pole platform to its regular home at the corner edge of Gloucester's Outer Harbor.
"I think everybody had a good time, and that's what it was all about," said Fiesta Committee President Joe Novello.
The event also featured pizza, other food and kids' games. And the event featured the real Greasy Pole, recovered from the platform after it was unceremonious dumped onto its side by high tides and high winds in late September.
The pole was "greased" for the walk with generous slabs of Crisco — 14 cans of it for the first group alone.
For Saturday's Fall Classic — "strictly a one-time event," Novello said — the ground beneath the pole was padded to help walkers from harm. A 50-50 raffle and donations of pizza and other amenities by local businesses also helped the cause, with all proceeds going to the Fiesta Committee's Greasy Pole drive.
Novello has said that the fund-raising drive is in high gear, and that the actual work to replace the Greasy Pole platform off Pavilion Beach may begin this week.
"We had a lot of people really step up, come out and help," Novello said. "A lot of people have really gotten behind this, right from the start."