Mardi Gras Traditions: Greasing of the Poles

Mardi Gras Traditions: Greasing of the Poles

Mardi Gras has so many layers to it. From the outside its masks and beads and purple green and gold. From the inside, its full of small nuanced traditions and 100 different costumes you have to create and wear for each of these events. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras isn't a day, it's a season. It starts on Epiphany or Jan 6th. Thats the socially acceptable day to start eating King Cake for all three meals a day. Second bedrooms are officially turned into craft rooms. The shelves at Michaels and Hobby Lobby are empty and every house hold has gallons of glitter and sequins. To an outsider its absurd. To us, it's our way of life.  

Desiree Ontiveros New Orleans Mardi Gras Bourbon St

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Though our founder and CEO is not native, she has indeed earned her title as a “local.” One may wonder, “Is it because of her flourishing business?” Or perhaps “it is because she won New Orleans Woman of the Year?” These accomplishments are important and wonderful, but they are in no comparison to winning the 50th anniversary of Greasing of the Poles 2019

Greasing of the Poles is one of those incredible traditions that takes place outside of the luxury Royal Sonesta hotel. It is located in the 300 block of the infamous Bourbon Street. This event kicks off Mardi Gras weekend in the French Quarter. It always starts the Friday before Mardi Gras and attracts thousands of people from all over the world. 

The Royal Sonesta began greasing their poles more than half a century ago as a tactile way to deter parade goers from shimmying up the support poles to achieve a better view. Now the practice has turned into a star studded event with four of New Orleans who's who competing to see who can grease their pole the best. 

Desiree Ontiveros Kookie Baker New Orleans Mardi Gras

Most people like to go the obvious route of “greasing their poles” (if ya know what I mean). But our Desiree is the master of seeing an opportunity in any situation and knew there was another approach. She decided that humour vs sex appeal would win the judges over and would be the most fun for the crowd who had seen that approach countless times. Desiree took her inspiration from Viktor and Rolf's SS 2019 runway collection and had a custom dress made to her design specifications. No outfit is complete with out the best accessory, a hype girl...and in this case, Drag Queen Miss Kookie Baker. Desiree was decked out in a lavender custom wig by Fifi Mahony's, a lavender tulle dress with the words "Haute Mess Express" across, lavender sequins gloves, glitter galore, and TINY HANDS.

Kookie Baker Badass Balloon Co Mardi Gras New Orleans Bourbon St


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The stakes were large and the hands were small. Desiree greased that pole as well as she could with the TINIEST hands imaginable. Desiree was up against Ashley Hansen, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz; April Dupré, TV personality and founder of Footprints to Fitness wellness company; and Justin Devilier, James Beard Award-winning chef. The event was sponsored by Moet and Chandon and hosted by author and actor Bryan Batt.  

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With one look at that costumes, gusto, sprinkles of glitter, and tiny hands, the results had to be for our Head Badass in Charge and the judges agreed with a perfect 10 score across the board. 

Desiree was declared the WINNER of 2019s Greasing of the Poles a very prestigious award and got an engraved bottle of champagne from Moet, which her tiny hands still haven't been able to open. 


Desiree returns this year on February 21, 2020 as a judge for Greasing of the Poles as New Orleans kicks off yet another Mardi Gras weekend!

Festivities begin at 10am sharp in front of the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon St. See you all there!

Greasing of the Poles
Royal Sonesta Hotel
300 Bourbon St
February 21, 2020

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