Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Thu March 10 2016

Opinion Home | Sonesta in the NOLA

  • Brigette Folse | March 10, 2016 2:00 PM ET

    Only in New Orleans: Greasing of the Poles a Local Tradition

    Only in New Orleans: Greasing of the Poles a Local Tradition

    PHOTO: The Greasing of the Poles has become an annual tradition in New Orleans over five decades. (Courtesy Royal Sonesta New Orleans)

    Each year, people from around the world travel to New Orleans to experience what many locals consider to be the greatest “free” show on Earth — Mardi Gras.

    The city’s Carnival traditions date back centuries to medieval Europe, and while Mardi Gras is celebrated in various ways in other cities and countries, the festivities and practices expressed in New Orleans’ version arguably take the cake.

    A multi-week celebration period culminating the day before Ash Wednesday, known as Fat Tuesday, New Orleans Mardi Gras is characterized by a series of dazzling parades and balls that bring together revelers from all walks of life. Many traditions of this celebration – over-the-top costumes, masks, custom-built ladders for parade watching, coveted beads and other signature “throws” from popular krewes – are practically synonymous with the city.

    READ MORE: Renovation Complete at Royal Sonesta

    But, a tradition some may not be as familiar with is the Royal Sonesta New Orleans’ annual Greasing of the Poles event. Now in its 46th year, Greasing of the Poles has earned its place in Crescent City history as a landmark experience, and is considered by many as the French Quarter’s official kickoff to the Mardi Gras weekend leading into Fat Tuesday.

    As the VIP box seat to a Mardi Gras experience like no other, Royal Sonesta New Orleans originated this Carnival ritual of greasing the building’s support poles as a practical means to deter over-zealous revelers from shimmying up to the hotel’s coveted balcony space overlooking world-famous Bourbon Street. Nearly five decades later, the practice has evolved into a star-studded and music-filled event, even spawning its own international fan club that hails from Switzerland to participate each year.

    A cultural cross-section of Carnival royalty, local musicians and celebrity guests helped ring in this this year’s one-of-a-kind cultural tradition. Local award-winning actor Bryan Batt served as master of ceremonies while judges included Grammy-award winning musician Irvin Mayfield, local funk bandleader “Big” Sam Bolden of Big Sam’s Funky Nation, NBC affiliate WDSU-TV Chief Meteorologist Margaret Orr and Tales of the Cocktail founder Ann Tuennerman. 

    Pole-greasers included Fleurty Girl founder Lauren Thom, Chelsea Murphy of The Merry Antoinettes Mardi Gras krewe, Yvonne Bryant of the Oui Dats de la Nouvelle-Orléans Mardi Gras krewe and burlesque performer Trixie Minx. The judges’ award went to Minx, and Thom won the People’s Choice vote, based on crowd participation and applause.

    This is truly an ‘only in New Orleans’ experience not to be missed. Come see it for yourself! Next year’s event will be held on Friday, February 28 at the hotel’s main entrance on Bourbon Street. We hope to see you there!



    If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans in the near future, book your stay with us and experience our newly renovated guest rooms, one of many reimagined aspects of Royal Sonesta New Orleans following our significant renovation. Check out our Guest Select package for the opportunity to save big on your upcoming stay!


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Brigette Folse Sonesta in the NOLA

Brigette Folse Brigette T. Folse is responsible for the leadership, effectiveness and productivity of the Royal Sonesta New Orleans’ sales organization. Folse has over two decades of experience in the hospitality industry that includes overseeing several major hotel openings. Before joining the Royal Sonesta New Orleans, Folse served as the associate director of sales for the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. While at Loews Hotels, Folse served as associate director of sales at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Spa in San Diego and as the national sales manager for the opening of Loews New Orleans. Folse has held additional managerial positions at both the J.W. Marriott and Hotel Monaco in New Orleans.
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