WELL, YOU can say this much for the 116th annual New Year's Day parade: It was . . . interesting.

Whether you followed along in person, on a phone, or on TV, you probably witnessed some unique moments, from the introduction of new and more diverse performers to a protest march that ended with the arrests of two activists.

Collected here are some snippets from a cold, windy morning and afternoon in Philadelphia.

The sentimental tug of childhood memories lured Sharon Davis to Broad Street and Washington Avenue, where she sat yesterday morning with a blanket wrapped around her legs.

It was quiet. The first batch of performers was at least a few blocks away.

"The anticipation is, like, really getting to me," she said, laughing.

The parade was an unquestioned ritual when Davis, 59, was a child. "My mother put Vaseline on us kids and made sure we had two pairs of warm socks and a nice warm coat," she said. "We didn't mind the cold. And I loved the hot chocolate."

She had missed the last few parades, but was determined to see this one. "I just thought, going into 2016, let me start the year off right."

Complaints about a lack of diversity in the parade led to the creation of the Philadelphia Division, which introduced four groups - the Miss Fancy Brigade, the Second 2 None Drill Team, Los Bomberos, and the San Mateo Carnavalero.

The new performers seemed thrilled to be a part of the show, and the city's parade director, Leo Dignam, said they would return next year as well.

"It was time for them to put in other acts because everybody is interested in different things," said Danae Peak, 37, a parent who marched with the drill team, made up of 8- to 14-year-olds.

"The kids were so excited. They were nervous. But now, they know what to expect next time."

Arizbeth Miguel, 17, couldn't stop grinning after dancing with San Mateo Carnavalero. "People were looking at us, which made me feel happy," she said. "I think it's good that the parade's getting more diverse. Philly's a diverse city."

Black Lives Matter protesters had promised to interrupt the Mummers Parade.

Part of their reason for marching was to call attention to the city's perpetual crises in education and poverty, and the need for national reform of police and prisons, said Erica Mines of the Philly Coalition for Racial, Economic and Legal Justice, which organized the protest.

But the demonstrators also wanted to call out the parade's troublesome history of featuring performers in blackface - or brownface - and carrying signs like "Wench Lives Matter," which some did yesterday.

A large crowd of protesters tried to enter the parade near 15th and Market Streets, but were blocked by Philly cops. Some parade spectators argued with the protesters.

The demonstrators opted to mostly stick to the sidewalks, marching south on Broad Street, and briefly below ground at the Walnut-Locust subway stop.

Two activists were arrested in front of the Kimmel Center - one for disorderly conduct, the other for interfering with the parade, said Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan. A photographer was also briefly detained.

"I think the police and the Department of Homeland Security handled it very professionally," Dignam said.

Some who kept tabs on the parade on social media complained that little was being done to stop public urination and open drinking.

Dignam said that the city would look to add more Port-a-Potties and that he personally saw cops admonish people for drinking.

A number of local politicians also expressed dismay on Twitter over a video showing a member of the Finnegan New Year's Brigade yelling "F--- the gays!" as he marched along Broad Street. The same group mocked Caitlyn Jenner.

The Batmobile - the black-and-red number that Adam West hopped in and out of in the 1960s - made an appearance, thanks to the Landi Comic Club, which invited a collector from Wilmington to participate in the parade.

Roger Crannell, 48, sat in the passenger seat, clad in a Robin costume. "This is the second time we've been here," he said. "Everyone loves it."

Questions about the Batmobile's owner went unanswered. Batman jumped into the driver's seat and drove off. You know how it is with Batman.

But the Batmobile was upstaged by another legend: former Flyers goalie Bernie Parent, who popped out of an SUV in front of the Kimmel Center, signed autographs, and mugged for photographs. The Hall of Famer was greeted with thunderous applause and chants.

Fans who stuck around - even as the sun retreated and the wind picked up - were gifted with plenty of visual treats.

South Philadelphia String Band won first place with its eye-popping "Dia de los Muertos" theme, while Woodland String Band featured a T. rex and assorted dinosaurs in "You Bet Jurassic's Good."

But some spectators skipped the crowded sidewalks and found other ways to have fun.

Cornell Halloday, 47, stood on the edge of Dilworth Park's ice rink and filmed his son, Dallas, 7, looping around it. Dallas stopped long enough to tell his dad to grab some hot chocolate.

"This is our first time down here together," said Halloday, of West Philadelphia. "This is a nice setup. We were over there at the parade earlier and came here for a break."

Chuck and Kathy Staiano, meanwhile, discovered the perfect spot to watch the parade: John F. Kennedy Boulevard between 16th and 17th Streets, where the Ferko String Band was running through a quick rehearsal.

"We were at 15th and Market, but we couldn't hear anything," said Chuck Staiano, 59. "But this is like being behind the scenes. I think we'll come back here next year."



On Twitter: @dgambacorta