When the Christmas lights go on at the City and County building this year, something will be missing: The words “Merry Christmas.” When downtown Denver hosts the Parade of Lights, something else will be missing: Christmas carols.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper recently announced that next year the phrase “Merry Christmas” will be removed from the city building and replaced with “Happy Holidays.” And now a church group who wants to march in the Parade of Lights and sing Christmas carols will not be allowed to participate in the parade. Organizers say the parade is about the holidays, not Christmas.

Is this carrying “political correctness” too far? Or a measure that is long overdue? As with most things, there are two sides to the issue:

In one corner:

“We can’t pretend that Christ didn’t exist and Christmas wasn’t about his birthday, so we felt we could sing it and apparently that is not in social vogue anymore,” said Pastor Gary Beasley, with the Faith Bible Chapel

In the other corner:

“This event is not one that has ever intended to have a religious message or a political message,” said Susan Rogers, with the Downtown Denver Partnership. She said no overtly religious symbols is allowed in the parade and that means participants can’t carry “Merry Christmas” signs and can’t sing traditional Christmas hymns.

In other words, must a city-sponsored event be non-denoninational — or is it okay if all denominations are allowed to participate? In Denver this year, non-demoninational rules. Not to worry though, the Faith Bible Group has figured out a pretty good solution:

The Arvada church group said since it cannot be in the parade, it will march one hour before this weekend’s Parade of Lights, pass out hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols.