For fifty years, a ceremony involving Vaseline and champagne has served as the official opening to the Mardi Gras weekend.
- photos by Ellis Anderson
The official ceremony began Friday, February 21, at 10am at the Royal Sonesta's Bourbon Street entrance, but by 9:30am, the 300 block of the street was already impassable.
Leroy Jones and the Original Hurricane Brass Band entertained crowds in front, while inside the Royal Sonesta the party had already started.
Award-winning chef John Folse, (who served as one of the event judges) and other special guests enjoyed breakfast and libations.
This purveyor of Bloody Marys wore a table as part of her costume.
The Femme Fatale group
The Merry Antoinettes
The unexpected combination required for the event, Vaseline and Moet.
Royal Sonesta General Manager Al Groos welcomes the crowd.
Theo Sanders of New Orleans's Most Talked of Crew (NOMTOC)
Among the special guests recognized, L to R: Patrick van Hoorebeek (King of Krewe of Cork and owner of Patrick's Bar Vin), Theo Sanders of NOMTOC and Trisha Cancilla, Moet Hennessy USA's champagne business development manager.
MC Bryan Batt takes the stage.
Bryan Batt recognizes members of an international group from Europe that attends the event every year, The Greasing of the Poles Fun Club, from Switzerland.
The event judges are introduced, beginning with Desiree Ontiveros of Badass Ballon Company.
Judge "David NOLA" Mora
Judge Trisha Cancilla, Moet Hennessy USA's champagne business development manager.
Judge "Wild Wayne"
Judge John Folse
The contestants in the Greasing the Pole contests, to be judged on a scale of 1-10. Reagan Charleston Thomas, from Bravo TV's "Southern Charm" New Orleans reality series.
Reagan Charleston Thomas
The Femme Fatales escort contestant Kenny Lopez, of WGNO's News With a Twist.
Contestant Kenny Lopez
A Merry Antoinette and contestant number three, Lana O'Day, Miss New Orleans Pride, 2020.
The fourth contestant, Louisiana music star Amanda Shaw, in Charlie Chaplin costume.
And let the greasing begin!
Lana O'Day uses a piece of lingerie as a greasing tool, while Amanda Shaw make use of her cane.
A tie vote had Kenny Lopez and Lana O'Day redoubling their greasing efforts.
Kenny Lopez upped the ante by baring his chest.
Kenny Lopez won the competition and the Peoples Choice award.
Trixie Minx closed out the event.
A few of the guests of honor...
Ellis Anderson first came to the French Quarter in 1978 to pursue dreams of becoming a musician and writer. Eventually, she also became a silversmith and represented local artists as owner of Quarter Moon Gallery, with locations in the Quarter and Bay St. Louis, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Her book about the Bay's Katrina experience, "Under Surge, Under Siege," was published by University Press of Mississippi and won the Eudora Welty Book Prize in 2010. The French Quarter Journal joins The Shoofly Magazine, Bay St. Louis Living, as a sister digital publication of Ellis Anderson Media, LLC.