(MILTON, Del.) - Every year St. Patrick's Day kicks off a week early at Irish Eyes in Milton. The annual parade painted the streets green as it made its way downtown Sunday afternoon. The center of the parade is at Irish Eyes on Union Street.

11-year-old Emma Jones of Milton says she has been coming to the St. Patrick's Day parade since she was born. "You like get to dress up and like all fancy and green and stuff. I usually like seeing like the dogs go through," she says.

5-year-old Liam, on the other hand, travels all the way from Wilmington to get to the parade every year. This year he's watching it alongside a dog named Missy.

Liam explains what he most looks forward to. "There's a lot of people and candy," he says.

Based on his family's heritage, Liam relates to the holiday. "I'm Irish," he says.

Emma and Liam are two of about 6,000 people who are thankful that Irish Eyes continues to host the parade every year.

Parade Committee President Maryellen Kiernan says this event takes 6 to 8 months to plan. "In 2008, Irish Eyes had been in Milton for a couple of years and we were looking for a way to sort of give back to the community," she says.

When the parade first started, 12 floats made way through downtown Milton in about 20 minutes. Now for the 12th Annual St. Patrick's Day parade, there are about 60 floats heading down Union Street to put on a show for the community and be judged in 6 different categories.

Kiernan explains what those categories are: "best float over all, judges choice, best commercial float, best band, and best kids just to name a few."

Southern Delaware Therapeutic Riding has brought a float for three years now. The figure on their float is usually on display at their facility just a short distance away in Milton.

Board member and instructor, Georgia Truitt, explains, "It is made out of horshoes and somebody created it out of Oregon and somebody created it every year."

Leading the way for all of these floats is Mary Ann Warrington. "I'm Grand Marshal of the parade, but I'm the president of the Milton Fire Department Ladies Auxilary," she explains.

Warrington says Irish Eyes surprised her with this honor at a joint fire company meeting. The Milton Fire Department is a beneficiary of the parade, alongside chamber of commerce, the town's fireworks fund, and the Gladdis Wilkins Seeding the Future Scholarship Fund.

"We use the proceeds for training, we use it for equipment. We use it for fire prevention for the youth in the community," says Warrington.

Kiernan says last year the parade raised just shy of $20,000 and that this year they would like to make $24000-$25,000.