Marston Marine has driven in the first piling for the new Greasy Pole platform.
And Joe Novello, head of the St. Peter's Fiesta Committee, said Thursday the iconic pole's new platform will be standing off Pavilion Beach in Gloucester Harbor before the end of the year.
The Greasy Pole, centerpiece of the quirky sports event that draw thousands to Gloucester's annual St. Peter's Fiesta, collapsed into water off Pavilion Beach in September, a victim of high winds and tides after it had been battered by Tropical Storm Irene a month earlier.
Novello said he had expected the pole to go up before Thanksgiving, but local, state and federal permitting took longer than he thought.
Residents and other backers, however, got behind the rebuilding effort, and have raised half of the $85,000 needed to build the new platform.
Of the money raised, he said, $30,000 has come from The Boston Foundation, a regional group that offers money to improve Greater Boston. A resident, he said, also donated the lumber needed to put up the platform.
The rest of the money, Novello said, is coming from donations and fund-raising events such as last Saturday's Greasy Pole Fall Classic at Gloucester High's Newell Stadium.
Novello said the Newell Stadium event raised around $3,000, and drew up to 1,000 people to watch residents walk the truck-mounted pole for a donation of $25 apiece. And there will be more events to come, he said.
Novello said the Fiesta Committee will continue holding fund-raisers to cover the cost of a loan the committee is taking to rebuild the dock and have the pole back in place in timely fashion.
"We've got to keep it in high gear," he said.
The Greasy Pole's first iteration went up in the 1930s. But a Sonoco barge that broke loose of its mooring lines toppled that one in the 1970s.
The new pole will be built sturdier than its predecessors. The re-constructed dock is being made of 10 fiberglass pilings, each with a projected 100-year lifespan, Novello said. Some of the pilings will fit over the remnants of the old wooden pilings.
Putting the pilings in, said Novello, will take time. Marston Marine, he said, can only put them in during high tide.
"They get one, maybe two in per day," he said.
The committee had already hired Norris "Tiger" Marston to carry out $45,000 worth of repairs on the pole and the dock after it was damaged by Irene, but the structure was toppled before he could start on that project.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.