Mark Your Calendars: The Big Parade is Back in May 2013

The Big Parade heads down a staircase in 2012. | Photo: Zach Behrens/KCET

This is urban hiking at its best: two days, 35 miles, 15 Los Angeles neighborhoods, some 80 public staircases, more than two dozen parks, and -- most importantly -- making new connections and friends. Yes, it's that time of the year to carve our some weekend time for The Big Parade.

Now in its fifth year, the event that has helped popularize L.A.'s network of public staircases leftover from an era when streetcars outnumbered plain ol' cars comes back for two days on May 18 and 19.

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Learn more about L.A.'s public staircases with "Secret Stairs" author Charles Fleming.

Before you think you can't go because you don't have all weekend or the endurance for so much walking, let me explain. Big Parade creator Dan Koeppel's philosophy is that this is an event for all. "We walk at the pace of the slowest person, we walk together, everyone is welcome," he told me last week as he prepped final details for the walk. "If you bother to show up, we will take you as far as you can go."

Key to that is how Koeppel builds the route. Each day's route is about 17 miles and includes two loops -- one six miles, the other two -- so you can join and return to your starting destination with ease. Even if you don't join for a loop, you can come and go at your leisure.

As with every Big Parade, it's never just a long walk in the city. It's about getting to know the city more intimately, both through the people you meet and the places and history you learn about. There are always breaks for music, speakers, snacks in people's yards, and, new to this year, community garden tours.

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. in downtown Los Angeles at Angels Flight and ends the next day atop Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. What you do between is up to you.

Maps and full route details have been released.

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