The greasy pole is the star event of Gloucester, Massachusetts’s annual feast in honor of St. Peter. Grown men sprint down the length of a telephone pole – a pole that is stretched above the ocean and coated in six inches of grease.
But spend a little more time in Gloucester and you’ll see that St. Peter’s Fiesta is also about celebrating the town’s rich Italian identity. San Pietro, or Saint Peter, is the patron saint of fishermen. And Gloucester’s fiesta is modeled pretty exactly on how the town’s Italian ancestors celebrated the saint 100 years ago in the Sicilian town of Terrasini.
But as we find out in this edition of the Local Global Mashup show, now it’s Americans who are inspiring their Italian cousins back in Sicily on how best to keep traditions alive, even as these same Americans worry about their fishing livelihoods and the future of their own fiesta.