Philadelphia poles are being greased ahead of Sunday afternoon’s NFC Championship game between the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.
The procedure, which a mayoral spokesperson confirmed is official city “protocol,” has become a nationwide meme. It’s an expression of the passion of Philadelphia sports fans. And people want to know more.
At least 200 people reached out to the city’s service center on Saturday to ask about the unique action, Philly 311 shared on Twitter, along with a plea.
“Philly please be kind to the street poles after the Eagles game,” the call center posted.
Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration included note of the pending pole-greasing in its pre-weekend advisory detailing possible road closures, parking restrictions and other details about the city’s preparation for the conference championships.
“PPD will institute the practice of ‘greasing poles’ as a deterrent for climbing poles and light fixtures,” the advisory said.
No one wants to jinx the Eagles by saying anything definitive, but “no parking” signs and barricades started going up early along South Broad Street below City Hall, where some of the most active post-game partying has happened in the past.
And the city knows that if Jalen Hurts and crew pull it off, this could be big.
Under a heading of “possible road closures,” officials noted restrictions on car traffic could extend around City Hall from 8th Street to 20th Street, and Race to Lombard. That’s an area of around 120 square blocks — equivalent to over three-quarters of a square mile, or more than 400 football fields.
Police have communicated with local businesses about how the implementation of traffic boxes may affect them, PPD Ofc. Miguel Torres told Billy Penn.
SEPTA is offering free rides home from the game at Lincoln Financial Field on the Broad Street Line, which can deposit fans squarely in the center of that vicinity.
Those fans are known to get hype. After the Phillies won the pennant, several people managed to scramble up lamp posts and street lights on Broad Street despite a layer of gear oil. No surprise, since the city has an annual grease pole climbing competition that lets people prep for the (admittedly dangerous) celebration.
Unlike the South Philly Italian Market contest, where organizers slather the post with Crisco, Philly police use gear oil for their pole-slicking: Bio-Bottle Jack Hydraulic Fluid ISO32, to be exact. It was chosen for its “environmentally friendly and biodegradable composition,” police told Billy Penn last fall.
“Many of the preparations that have been undertaken mirror similar events that have occurred in the past, with the Phillies’ NLCS celebrations as the most recent example,” Ofc. Torres confirmed Friday. “In anticipation of large crowd sizes stemming from multiple events throughout the city, the Philadelphia Police Department will be extending tours for personnel to ensure that adequate staffing is on hand to address these events without interrupting police services in our neighborhood districts.”
Officials didn’t reveal specifics about exactly where the weekend’s pole-grease is happening, perhaps spurring all the Philly 311 calls.
So be kind to the city’s infrastructure, Philadelphia. And perhaps more importantly: Go Birds.