Perhaps it's just me, but I can't help thinking Hamilton's Christmas parade isn't what it used to be.
On my way home on Sunday afternoon after watching the parade with my daughter and some friends, it occurred to me that it didn't seem to be overly Christmassy.
Festive floats were interspersed with dozens of cultural groups and performing arts displays. They were colourful, yes. The cheerleaders were hold-your-breath-spectacular (the relief around me was audible as the girls tossed high into the air made it down safely).
But many of the displays and floats didn't capture the spirit of the season.
When I got home I looked up the parade website. That's where I found the reason the parade didn't seem super festive.
How can it be if there's no mention of the word Christmas in the official purpose of the parade set down by the Hamilton Christmas Charitable Trust?
The trust deed states "the purpose of the parade is to promote education in the performing and creative arts, New Zealand's cultural and religious heritage". Oh puh-lease!
Has the PC brigade dragged its fine-toothed comb over the rules and regulations of the parade? Is it a cultural offence to celebrate Christmas in all its tinselly glory lest we offend a minority group?
Sure, some of the floats were imaginative but many looked as though they were an afterthought - like some genius decided to throw some tinsel at a vehicle and call it Christmas on wheels.
Hamilton born and raised, I remember the "wow" floats of the late 1980s/early 1990s. And yes, there were even - gasp! - lolly scrambles back then.
I'm not one of those Christmas curmudgeons. I love this time of the year and all the feel-good aspects of it - planning thoughtful gifts for my nearest and dearest, the anticipation of the big day itself, and witnessing the enchantment that younger members of the family bring to the occasion. And it's been a privilege to be part of a Christmas toy drive with the Classic Hits team this year.
Meeting dozens of wonderful people - including many children - who have been so willing to donate toys for those less-fortunate children has been both uplifting and humbling. Waikato is home to some very selfless and thoughtful people who've helped bring a little bit of magic to other families' Christmas.
But it felt like the magic of this year's parade wasn't there. As with other parades around the country, Hamilton's parade is fraught with strict rules that govern what parade participants can and can't do. There's certainly no throwing lollies into the crowds should some poor child get run over or trampled in the rush. Aside from the safety and crowd management aspects of a lolly scramble, we wouldn't want to be seen to be contributing to our obesity epidemic by dishing out sugary treats now, would we?
Has the PC brigade gone and rained on our Christmas parade?