The largest St. Pat’s Parade around steps off this Sunday in Milton

Girl Goes Local …

The largest St. Pat’s Parade around steps off this Sunday in Milton
By Shauna McVey

milton parade, delaware, sussex county
Keith Bennett and Chelsea Aydelotte, the world’s tallest leprechauns, had a blast leading the Milton St. Patrick’s Day Parade for two of its 10 years. Bennett, who is neither Irish nor tiny, will pass his leprechaun hat to Shauna McVey as she joins Aydelotte this Sunday in the parade’s 11th year.

Twelve miles west of the Cape Henlopen coast lies a quaint town with one of Sussex’s best kept secrets: The Milton St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Don’t let the name fool you. This parade isn’t just a parade, and it won’t be held on St. Patrick’s Day. This, my friends, is a full-day celebration complete with kilts and bagpipes in a sea of green.

Hosted by Milton’s Irish Eyes Pub & Restaurant and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, the family-friendly, town-wide party will kick off this Sunday, March 11, with a Lucky Leprechaun 5K at 11 a.m. The parade itself will step off at 2 p.m., but the party will continue for hours after the bands, Irish dancers and leprechauns finish marching.

Parade Committee President Maryellen Kiernan said it started in 2008 as a way for Irish Eyes to give back to the community. The first year boasted about 10 floats and lasted maybe 15 minutes. Last year, more than 70 floats and 5,000 spectators joined the fun.

“St. Patrick’s Day is a big day for us. The parade is another way for us to celebrate it and also give back to the town,” she said. “If you haven’t been here, it’s unbelievable. The horses and bands and even the spectators get dressed up. It’s a great day for Milton and it’s fun to see how everybody celebrates.”

blarnney stone, delaware, sussex county
St. Pat’s Parade Leprechaun Shauna McVey kissed away her Irish luck in 2004 when she hit her head on the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland. She’ll be lucky not to trip and fall Sunday.

I’ve covered my share of parades as a reporter and editor in southern New Castle County, but let me tell you – we upstate folk could learn a thing or two from this town. The size of and participation in Milton’s last Christmas Parade was impressive, and I suspect Sunday will be even better.

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I have never attended the Milton St. Patricks’ Day Parade, so what better way to start than to walk in it … dressed as a leprechaun? I got the gig randomly while chatting with Kiernan. She needed a second leprechaun, and I’m Irish and tiny.

It took me a little while to convince myself to do this, but how could I turn down this opportunity in my new town? Besides, Maryellen assured me I’d be provided a little liquid courage to get past the fact that I hate being the center of attention.

I’ll be in good company with veteran Leprechaun Chelsea Aydelotte, a lifelong Miltonian, who’s in her third year at the helm.

“It’s a time for the town to come together and just enjoy an afternoon of fun,” she said. “The kids love seeing the cars, firetrucks, horses and music. Everyone is happy and enjoying themselves.”

In addition to two pale, freckly leprechauns will be Grand Marshal Mike Clark, who plans to rock a kilt for the occasion. Clark is the Milton Chamber of Commerce president and branch manager of Security Instrument, one of the parade’s sponsors.

“I consider it an honor. I join a long list of Milton dignitaries who have been the grand marshal in the past,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere. Get out there and have a good time.”

Proceeds from the parade and 5K will benefit the Milton Fire Department, The Milton Chamber of Commerce and the Gladys Wilkins Seeding the Future Scholarship Fund.

The parade starts at Union Street (Route 5) and Atlantic Avenue, heads south, turns right onto Federal Street and ends at Milton Elementary School. For information and 5K details, go to

Girl Goes Local,
Shauna McVey

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