‘I lived for the village feast and for Carnival’ – float built in tribute to ‘iċ-Chippy’
He died doing what he loved most…working on Carnival floats. It has been almost six months since Jean Paul Bonett, known as iċ-Chippy, died after getting an electric shock at the Carnival warehouse. He died on the spot.
Just a few days after his death, his Carnival friends began working on a float to pay tribute to his memory. The float shows iċ-Chippy carrying the statue at the feast of San Gaetan, and wearing a Knight’s costume during Carnival.
Speaking with Television Malta, his friends said that although this Carnival is a time for having fun, they are still mourning the loss of iċ-Chippy, who is no longer with them.
‘Għext għall-Festa u għall-Karnival’ (I lived for the village feast and for Carnival) That is the theme of the float which describes Jean Paul Bonett; on Saturday it will be six months since he died. Bonett was 45 years old when he died on the eve of the summer Carnival while he was installing the electricity on a float at the Marsa warehouse.
Shawn Curmi was the first one to find iċ-Chippy when he died. He showed us the exact place where he embraced his friend for the last time. He and iċ-Chippy were very close.
“I began hugging him but Jesus wanted to take him. I have come to believe in destiny because he might have died in the morning. He waited until I arrived to see me one last time and then he was gone.”
After this tragedy, Shawn Curmi at first did not wish to continue building floats…however, deep in his heart he felt that iċ-Chippy wanted him to continue.
“It is terrible. Even when I am here alone, I sometimes find it difficult, but I will go on. For him.”
Just a few days after his death, volunteers from the company Buffalo rolled up their sleeves and began building a float for their friend.
“We made the first face a bit refined as he is carrying the statue of the saint, and the second one is wearing a Carnival mask and we dressed him as a Knight. It was what he loved the most, the Knight of the Carnival.”
His twin sister described how at this time of year, iċ-Chippy used to be on the moon. For Claudine Mackay, the faces created by his friends are a spitting image of her brother.
“They are perfect. It is like he is next to me. It doesn’t seem like a mask at all. It looks just like him, he is here, present.”
Shawn Curmi however did not feel he could compete with a float.
“I didn’t want to compete against my best friend. I wanted to come out with this float to pay him my last respects.”
Fellow Carnival enthusiasts are convinced that iċ-Chippy will celebrate Carnival in heaven. His absence from the warehouse however, will always be felt.
“I love him like a brother. I love him and one day. I will meet him again. We are like brothers. We spent every day together. It is very difficult. But we will see.”
The float dedicated to iċ-Chippy will be among the line of floats which will delight the crowds during Carnival.