PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) --Outrageously costumed Mummers strutted their stuff Friday at the city's annual New Year's Day parade, a colorful celebration that features string bands, comic brigades, elaborate floats and plenty of feathers and sequins.
Participants danced wildly and toted parasols down Broad Street, the city's main north-south thoroughfare, during the 116th edition of what has been called Philadelphia's Mardi Gras.
New this year was the "Philadelphia Division," meant to inject some diversity into the parade, with two new Hispanic performance groups, a black drill team and the LGBT Miss Fancy Brigade.
But some critics called the parade offensive, with one performing group painting their faces brown to portray Mexicans and a comic brigade mocking Caitlyn Jenner.
Dozens of activists from the Black Lives Matter movement used the parade to stage a protest.
The build-up to this year's extravaganza was palpable in the hours leading up to the big event.
Late Thursday night, the Mummers were still touching up their costumes, making sure everything was just right.
As usual, the Fancies, the Wenches, Comics, Fancy Brigade and string bands were expected to take part, along with the brand new Philadelphia Division.
For the second year, the Mummers marched southbound down Broad Street, away from City Hall rather than toward it.
The parade is a longstanding Philadelphia tradition.
And even though there are lots of jokes and laughs along the way, there is a serious, competitive side as well.
Each group wants to win, and they want to put on a great show.
As Sam Regalbuto of the Quaker City group put it, "Fans can expect a spectacular show. We are going all-out this year. We have all the dark sides of Disney characters, and a heck of a finale."
Fancies: Golden Crown
String Band Division: South Philadelphia String Band
Captain: John Baron
The Associated Press contributed to this report.