It's too early to talk about Christmas, right? No. Right after July 4th, the Back to School stuff goes up, because retailers want your shoulders to slump ever so slightly when you see enormous yellow pencils suspended from the ceiling. Well, that was a nice summer.

After that comes the two-month Halloween retail overkill, and there's always some reindeer-related stuff in the back, as if to counteract all the demonic imagery in the main display area. So no, it's not too early. It's almost here.

Which brings us to the Holidazzle, or lack thereof. The Minneapolis City Council has found the funding for replacement for the Holidazzle. Ready? It's … The Winter Marketplace.

Let us review. Holidazzle: Brightly lit characters march down the mall to the cheers and applause of young and old, piercing the depthless night of December with a festival that strikes a blow against the dark heart of winter.

Winter Marketplace: Hey, here's some stuff to buy

You may think: Well, it's still a parade, right? Except now all the storybook characters will be major appliances? No.

I was the grand marshal at a Holidazzle parade, and there's nothing quite like standing on the float as you move slowly down the great avenue, seeing all the shining faces beaming up with curiosity to see what celeb rides the float, then dimming with disappointment. The cold was brutal. The sidewalks were packed. All those mittened hands waving hello! The priceless expressions of the little children. ("I have no context for understanding this and am caught between wonder and terror.") It was an event. Shopping is not an event.

If it works, great. And we still have the Aquatennial parade. Why not use Holidazzle costumes for that? Christmas is coming, you know.