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Rain and hail drown carnival parade

Heavy showers dampened the floats and the participants’ spirits as the eagerly-anticipated carnival parade had to be cancelled because of bad weather yesterday.

The organisers were “devastated” as the floats, which had taken months of painstaking preparation, could not even make it to the capital due to the strong gusts of wind they would have encountered while been driven up Ġlormu Cassar Avenue towards Auberge de Castille.

The heavy downpours soaked through the papier mâché floats, rendering them unstable and unable to safely support the dancers.

“We’ve had to call it a day. At the moment, we’re all trying to make merry in the rain,” the president of the Carnival Participants Association, Jason Busuttil, said dejectedly.

“The bad weather has been affecting us since last week when we were assembling the floats. Today, the floats did not even budge from the Granaries. They would have ended up at the Waterfront had we attempted to take them up the hill,” Mr Busuttil said.

He stressed the importance of having adequate warehouses that could be used to quickly store the floats in the event of bad weather. Parts of the floats are constructed and painted in stores but the whole thing is assembled outside because the stores are not big enough to take the entire structure.

The issue of storage has bothered participants for years and, last November, the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts announced that the planning authority had granted a permit for the construction of a carnival village at Corradino. It will be composed of 21 workshops that are expected to be completed in time for next year’s carnival.

“Having adequate stores similar to those found abroad is an absolute priority. The floats have sustained thousands of euros in damage. A lot of money and hard work is being absolutely wasted. We desperately need these stores because Malta’s carnival is slowly being destroyed,” Mr Busuttil said.

Holger Camilleri, a member of the Ċiċċo Carnival company, said he felt lost when discussing when to hold carnival. “Carnival is a centuries-long tradition. Carnival is always followed by Ash Wednesday, which heralds Easter. In other countries, carnival is always held during this particular period.

“On the other hand, it is costing us a lot of money. We are not as well-equipped as other countries. Viareggio in Italy, for instance, has stores close to where the défilé is held. Looking at our fully made-up dancers in their foam costumes who are soaking wet and at the stationary float, which we could not even light up, is devastating. This float took us eight months to build. Competition becomes tougher now as we only have two days instead of three.

“Let’s hope the weather is forgiving in these final two days.”

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