It's been about five months since Norris "Tiger" Marston, of Marston Marine, drove the first piling on the way to rebuilding Gloucester's iconic Greasy Pole dock.
Now, the old pole stands on a new platform on nine new pilings of fiberglass with a 100-year-life expectancy, and ready to once again assume its leading role in the sports festivities for the 2012 St. Peter's Fiesta.
The pole and platform had collapsed into the Outer Harbor off Pavilion Beach last October, after taking one too many punches from late summer storms.
Marston attached the original walking pole, a crown jewel of Fiesta's activities and the last major step in the rebuilding project, last week.
Fiesta Committee Chief Joe Novello and other committee members checked the platform the next day, and he said it's sturdier than its predecessor.
"It's ready to go," Novello said.
The restoration project — carried out entirely with private money through a series of fundraising efforts — came in under budget to boot.
The Fiesta Committee, Novello said, eyeballed $85,000 as the cost of repairs. They've raised around three-quarters of that so far, he added.
But, with a donation of marine grade lumber and Marston donating some of his time to rebuild the pole, Novello said he expects the project to cost around $75,000.
"They saved us quite a bit," he said.
Novello said the committee started fundraising efforts in November, with events that included a Greasy Pole "Fall Classic" over safety mats at Newell Stadium.
This year's St. Peter's Fiesta, which begins with the annual Novena, swings into high gear June 27 and runs through July 1.
Novello said the committee may hold a dedication of the new pole before then.
The winter, Novello said, was good for construction, though south winds slowed down some aspects of the project, and the work is still not quite complete.
All that's left, he added, is some sanding and alignment work on the pole and railing.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.