The City of Sharon is preparing for their inaugural St. Patrick's Day parade. 

The City of Sharon partnered with Downtown Development Team a year ahead of the parade to develop the event, which they've named the Slainte Sharon Parade. 

"We knew it would be a big deal and wanted to be sure we successfully developed it in a big way," said Courtney Cilli, Downtown Events Coordinator. "We had a year to talk about it and plan for it."

The Downtown Development Team also saw the parade as a way to connect with the city's heritage.

According to Ted Miller, considered a resident Irish historian of the Shenango Valley, the area is full of Irish history.

"The iron peddlers and steel workers and coal miners when they left Ireland during the famine, and eventually ended up here, were the backbone of the valley," Miller said, co-founder of County Mayo Irish band, who he sings with, and a co-founder of the county's Ancient Order of Hibernians.

The parade now has more than 60 entrants, and includes lots of music, Irish organizations, businesses, firetrucks and more. 

Some of the participants include Burke's School of Irish Dance out of Youngstown; the Mahoning Valley Irish Festival organization; The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Trails End Conservancy horses; Penn State Shenango, Buhl Club dancers, Sharon Robotics Teams. Flynn's Tire's will also be loaning their mascot "Flynnie" to the parade. 

The parade is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 16, and was purposely chosen so that it doesn't interfere with actual St. Patrick's Day events in the Shenango Valley.

"Our plan is for it to continue to grow and attract people for overnight stays in the area to enjoy a whole weekend of entertainment," said Cilli, adding that the parade is very family and pet friendly. "We wanted it that way for those that wanted a family-friendly option for celebrating the St. Patrick's Day holiday."

The parade will also help support local animals charities in the Shenango Valley such as Tail of Hope, Strayhaven Animal Shelter, the Shenango Valley Animals Shelter and the Animal Protection League of Western Pennsylvania. 

"We're inviting the public to bring down pet food, pet litter, gently used towels, blankets & sheets, cleaning products, peanut butter and more to donate to the animal charities, and we'll have a vehicle in the parade that will collect those items as they pass," said Cilli, adding that "we'll also be inviting parade guests to dress up their pets and walk in the parade where they'll have a designated space away from music and firetrucks so pets will be less anxious."

Streets close in downtown Sharon starting at 3 p.m.,  and the parade kicks off at 5:30 p.m., starting behind the Penn State Shenango campus, and ends at  6:30 p.m. at Quaker Steak & Lube, 101 Chestnut St., Sharon.