There is a fine line between exuberance and boorishness. It is a distinction fans participating in the revelries that begin at Westpac Stadium today should bear in mind.
The Wellington leg of the international rugby sevens circuit has deservedly gained a reputation as a non-stop party.
At its best the two-day tournament is a celebration of Kiwi wit and inventiveness (the rugby, good though it is, is really an afterthought). As Museum Art Hotel owner Chris Parkin, who is putting up $25,000 in prizes for the best costumes, observed this week, the fans who dress up as Smurfs, board games, highlighter pens, road signs et al, are "symbolic of Wellington".
The city is the creative capital of New Zealand – not because it has the biggest marketing budget or the catchiest sloganeers – but because its inhabitants have a talent for expressing themselves in imaginative ways.
However, in recent years, the wit, particularly late in the evening has been tainted by boorish behaviour. Just as the Toast Martinborough wine festival and the Wellington Cup have been blighted by drunkenness so, at times, has the Sevens.
We've never been to the Sevens, and the chances are that we never will; our days of drinking all day long are well behind us, and our powers of recovery are not what they used to be! But the Wellington event has achieved almost cult status; it sells out in just a few minutes year after year, the costumes get more elaborate each year, as do the stories of drunkenness.
The editorial continues, with some numbers:
Last year 105 people were arrested during the course of the tournament, most for offences committed while under the influence of alcohol.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a cold beer in the hot afternoon sun or continuing the party in Courtenay Place after play has finished. Doing so is part of the attraction of the event. But when the conduct of those who have been drinking impacts on the enjoyment of others a line has been crossed.
That last sentence makes a good point. As we have got closer to being an Old Fart, our Drunken Idiot Threshhold has dropped markedly, and we're sure we're not alone. But therein is Wellington's dilemma; the economic benefits of the Sevens are considerable, and the city needs to find a balance to ensure that it doesn't kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
Having cash prizes for those in costume non-preloaded is a good initiative, but at the end of the day, much of it comes down to personal responsibility. Anyone who gets arrested or ejected for drunkenness has only themselves to blame.
Here's hoping that the Wellington Sevens will again be a memorable weekend for all those who attend, and for all those who will benefit from the influx of visitors. And here's hoping that those who have to clean up the mess afterwards don't have too daunting a job.