Who is Bonhomme? This year's candidates revealed

·3 min read

Centre Culturel La Ronde’s annual winter tradition is returning with a wide variety of virtual activities and events.

The carnival runs from Feb. 15 to Feb. 27.

Friday, La Ronde unveiled the three candidates for the Bonhomme Carnaval mascot.

This year’s candidates are dance teachers from Dansons La Ronde: Melissa Kelly-Lavoie, Emma Bertrand and Seth Guillemette.

“We’re pretty excited because we never had that opportunity to be Bonhomme Carnaval,” Kelly-Lavoie said. “We’re going to make sure he’s enthusiastic and full of life.”

Bertrand, 18, teaches jazz and contemporary, while Guillemette, 15, teaches hip-hop and musical theatre.

“When I was really, really small, Bonhomme used to come around,” Guillemette recalled. “And a few of my friends and I were a little frightened but we used to hide and spy on him. It was a great time.”

In the past, people would go to businesses and fill out a ballot to guess who Bonhomme is. This year, people will be able to vote through a Facebook poll. There’s a $100 prize.

While details of the upcoming events are still being ironed out, La Ronde’s executive director Lisa Bertrand said events are open to adults and children, and everyone is welcome to attend.

“Bonhomme is going to be on the Zoom meetings, saying hi and stuff like that,” she said. “Out of the people who guessed the right Bonhomme, we will put all their names in the draw and one person.”

Some of the potential events this winter include a Sip and Paint via Zoom, a pop-up dance class, a cooking class with Merv Russell, online readings for kids and virtual shows featuring local musicians.

Instead of a snow sculpture competition, which used to take place during the carnival in previous years, there will be a window painting contest for each class in all the French and French immersion schools.

Participants will paint their windows with Bonhomme Carnaval, take a picture and send it to La Ronde's email.

“And then we’re going to have the competition online to see what school will win. The school that wins will get $100 and they get a trophy," Bertrand said.

The full confirmed schedule of the carnival will be revealed in the first week of February. All events will be free.

The identity of the Bonhomme will be revealed on the last day of the carnival, Feb. 27.

“For us, the francophone community, it means a lot,” Kelly-Lavoie said. “Throughout school, I remember growing up we were always part of the carnival. We used to go skating, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing. Last year, they had a ball hockey (tournament).”

“La Ronde always makes it so much fun. And it’s a great way for the francophone community to come together for this event.”

The carnival has been taking place in Timmins since 1968, with an exception for 2015 when La Ronde’s previous building was destroyed in a fire.

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com