Banned from the Parade of Lights, Christian groups turned out members numbering in the hundreds to sing carols and give out hot chocolate during the hour before the start of the City’s annual holiday parade.

…hundreds of Christmas carolers from metro-area churches … sang along the Parade of Lights route. They sang on 15th Street. They sang at Court Place. And they sang at Colfax Avenue and Bannock Street. ….the parade started in 1974 as a way to replace Denver’s traditional Saturday morning Santa Claus Parade that ended in the 1960s. The Parade Of Lights entry rules evolved during the past decade to reject religious-themed floats in favor of more secular symbols such as snowmen and gingerbread houses.

The Parade of Lights is funded not by the City, but by the Downtown Denver Partnership which solicits corporate sponsorships, the largest coming from 9News and Xcel Energy. Early reaction to the carolers Friday night ranged from the positive to the almost clueless:

Along the parade route, the caroling groups were greeted with some applause. Some watched impassively. Some merchants zipped past them selling light sticks and foam Christmas-tree hats. One person walked by and asked, “Are these the Jesus people?”

Meanwhile, the Downtown Denver Partnership reiterated it was not rejecting Christians and next year would discuss changes to its all-secular policy:

Jim Basey, president of the partnership, said it stands by its policy of not allowing religious or political messages in the parade. He also said that despite last-minute lobbying by City Council members for a compromise, parade organizers said they would wait until next year to evaluate their policies. “We have no objections to Pastor (George) Morrison’s plan to walk along the parade crowd, pass hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols,” the statement said. “Please know that there are no policies for the Parade of Lights prohibiting Christmas songs or parade participants saying ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Happy Hanukkah’ or other holiday greetings. That is part of the holiday tradition.”