GLOUCESTER— Nicky Avelis knew once he got that first flag he could potentially go on a run of Greasy Pole championships.
Avelis, 33, a veteran walker grabbed his first flag on Saturday during the 2012 St. Peter’s Fiesta, and on Sunday he added another flag to his resume, navigating the length of the 40 foot greased telephone pole in the fourth round, his second flag in as many years.
“I knew once I got the first one I could go on a tear,” Avelis said.
From the get-go, it was clear that Avelis was on his game, but on Championship Sunday the field is so stacked that there are usually several walkers bringing their “A” game to the pole. But in the end, Avelis stood tall against the field and actually turned in the afternoon’s two best walks.
In the third round the victor came a mere inches away from the flag, which was just out of the reach of his outstretched arm. In round four, however, Avelis finished the job walking all the way to the end of the pole and taking the flag with him.
“I don’t even know how I did it,” Avelis said. “It was a blur.”
A jubilant Avelis was lifted onto the shoulders of his fellow walkers as he reached the shore at Pavilion Beach and hoisted in the air not only his flag, but Carlo “Sleepy” Pallazolla’s 1956 championship flag as well. Avelis dedicated his winning walk to the late Pallazolla, a family friend St. Peter’s Fiesta legend who has won multiple Greasy Pole and Seine Boat titles.
“I walked today for anyone who has lost a loved one,” the now Sunday champ said.
Sunday’s championship Greasy Pole round was not short on the drama either, as there were several walkers who came just feet away from taking the flag.
The close calls began in the second round where 2005 Friday and 2006 Saturday champ Vinny Parisi was just a step away from a win. Ward 3 City Councillor and 1993 Saturday and 1994 Sunday champ Steve LeBlanc along with proteges Jason Brooks and Chris Shields made it more than three quarters of the way to the end.
The close calls didn’t stop in round three as Saturday winner Zack Allen, who ended a marathon Greasy Pole contest the day before with a winning walk in the fifth round, started off the round with a close call. Two walkers later Avelis had his first near win while 2011 Sunday champion Ali D’Angelo, 1989 Saturday and 2007 champ Russell Hines, Parisi and protege Kevin Mazzeo all nearly tasted victory.
Three walkers into round four, however, Avelis sent the fans on Pavilion Beach home happy with an impressive walk in one of the more exciting Greasy Pole competitions in recent years.
Fiesta 5K: Joshua Hardin Friday Greasy Pole: Kyle Barry Women's Seine Boats: Rowgue; Gina Lampassi (coxswain), Mike Harmon (scuttler), Alex Pizzimenti, Sam Rose, Jenny Davis, Whitney Buckley, Karen Conant, Megan Goddard, Kristina Ribeiro, Alessandra Russo, Jaime McDonald, Melanie Catanzaro. Junior Women's Seine Boats: Savages; Vanessa Prince (coxswain), Paul Favazza (scuttler), Olivia Legendre, Annelise White, Nicole Oliver, Kate Morrissey, Olivia Parsons, Taylor Sargent, Julia Lamoureaux, Hannah Ellis, Lindsey Mason, Tess Destino. Saturday Greasy Pole: Zack Allen Men's Seine Boats: Kaos; Joe Novello (coxswain), Tim Oakes (scuttler), Mark Duval, Tom Jarvis, Jimmy Tarantino, Erik Dombrowski, Glenn Harrington, Joe Sanfilippo, Tom Conrad, Jeff Muise, Mike Mitchell, Tony Testaverde. Sunday Greasy Pole: Nicky Avelis