Big Parade LA

The Big Parade FAQ (2014)

THIS IS THE 2014 BIG PARADE FAQ. It was last updated on May 29, 2014.

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2014? This year’s route combines the best elements of 2012 - we return to the LA River - with the slightly shortened route we debuted in 2014. We also spend more time moving east from downtown before we reach the river. Biggest change of all: Day One starts at Grand Park, not Angel’s Flight! We still end Sunday at the Griffith Observatory. Our Code of Conduct has been revised. You agree to follow it when you join us, so when you’re done with the FAQ, take a moment to read that here.

FiNAL ROUTES, MAPS, AND FAQs have been posted here. Specific instructions on joining us are here.

See BIG QUESTION: WHERE AND WHEN?

  • Day One: We meet at Grand Park, in downtown Los Angeles, at 8:30AM. We finish at 7:30PM at the Music Box Stairs in Silver Lake. We then venture to a special party for BPLA participants only, featuring musician Gabriel Kahane. The location of the party will be revealed enroute.
  • Day Two: We start at 8:30AM at the Music Box Stairs, at the intersection of Vendome and Del Monte, in Silverlake. We finish at the Griffith Observatory. 
     
  • Join Points: You can join us anywhere along the way. Each day will have four specific loops of lengths between two and seven miles, making it easy for anyone to participate. 

  • Mass Transit: The route maps include mass transit info for getting to and from our join points. Look for the green bus icons. 

  • Look at the maps (posted on this site) and then follow us on Twitter at bigparadela.com/twitter. We will be broadcasting our location every fifteen minutes (though Saturday afternoon we will pass through several weak coverage zones).

NEXT BIG QUESTION: TIMING

  • Please remember that our timetables are super approximate, and we can run late. Please follow us on Twitter for exact location updates. (If you don’t use Twitter, and you’re waiting at one of our designated join points, there’s almost certain to be somebody who does. Ask!) If you are trying to join us on the move, remember: intercept - don’t chase. 

NEXT BIG QUESTION: FOOD

  • We don’t stop to buy food along the way. Instead, we have our lunches and breaks in wonderful places, far from commerce. So bring the food you plan to eat. Our lunch breaks include live music. 

ANOTHER BIG QUESTION: BATHROOM BREAKS

  • Each day has three official public restroom stops. There are also construction porta-potties on the route.

ANOTHER BIG QUESTION: ENTERTAINMENT

  • To make the event more fun, we have historians, artists, poets, and musicians who’ll entertain you as we walk. A full roster of guests can be found on the Friends/Speakers/Performances page.

CONFIRMED SATURDAY NIGHT PARTY:  The party is on. Location will be announced enroute. Because it is in a private home, only Big Parade participants can come. Please respect our host’s request. 

THE PROLOGUE: On Friday, May 30, Bob Inman will be leading a prologue walk in Northeast Los Angeles. The walk starts at 9AM at the Lincoln Heights Metro Gold Line station.

GENERAL QUESTIONS: 

What is the Big Parade?

The Big Parade is a two-day walk through Los Angeles. It starts at the famous Angel’s Flight Stairs, downtown, and works its way west, through multiple neighborhoods, stopping near the famous Music Box Stairs in Silverlake - named after Laurel & Hardy’s Oscar-winning 1932 short film - for a pot-luck dinner party and celebration. The next day, we continue through the stairways of SIlverlake, on to the Franklin Hills and Los Feliz. We traverse Griffith Park, finally climbing to the Griffith Observatory, and possibly beyond.

But the Big Parade is more than just a walk. It is an event that is the product of years of walking - and the collaboration of multiple people who love to walk in Los Angeles, and each see walking in different ways, and all hope to express that love along the route. What does that mean? Hard to say, because the hope is that spontaneous things will happen, but the core of the event will be structured around getting members of each community we traverse to join us; stopping to visit with interesting people and groups along the way; uncovering secret (and not-so-secret) historic and cultural sites along the way; and spreading the message that Los Angeles is - not could be - a walkable city.

When is it going to happen?

Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1, with a prlologue walk on Friday, May 30. A full schedule is posted at this website under routes/maps/timetables. For more details, please join our Facebook group at www.bigparadela.com/facebook. Click on the “Events” tab once you’re there for the individual daily descriptions. 

Why is it called a “Parade?”

Because Parades are for everyone! This isn’t meant to be an endurance event, a marathon, a competition, or anything like that. We’re not raising money for anyone, charging anyone anything, or giving out trophies. And we’re talking about a parade in the most honest sense - this isn’t about spectators behind barricades watching giant floating cartoon characters (though if you happen to own a giant floating cartoon character, bring it along.) This is an old-fashioned parade, meaning that the participants and the people watching shouldn’t be afraid to be each other.

Why are you doing this?

The short answer is that Los Angeles is a beautiful place to walk, and I wanted to find a way to express that. There’s a lot of effort put into “proving” how walkable Los Angeles is. What I hope is that this is a second-generation journey; proof has already been provided, and by gathering people from across the city and exploring together, we will celebrate something that has been evident from the start: that L.A. is best seen, experienced, and navigated - not just for fun, but as a day-to-day practice - on foot.

Want a longer answer? Come along.

How long is the walk?

The total length of the walk is approximately 35 miles - 18 miles on Day One (Saturday) and 16 miles on Day Two (Sunday.) The walk is broken into segments - including a main five mile loop each day - so that anyone can come along.

How do I find the 2014 route, maps, and timetables?

Starting May 28, 2013, they are available via the “Routes/Maps/Timetables” link on this page.

Is the Big Parade free?

Yes!

Can I come along?

Of course! Come for a half-mile, a mile, an hour, a half-day, all day, or both days. There are a few things you should know, especially if you’re planning to join us for more than an hour.  Most important is that we’re following a timetable. That’s good - you’ll be able to know where to meet us, and exactly where you’ll be going. The timetable will be marked with interesting spots and some commentary, in case you’re looking for a recommendation. Please remember that the trip is end-to-end, so that you’ll need to turn around and get yourself home in a lot of cases (though there are several excellent places to close loops, short and long, that we’ll point out.)

Remember to bring sunscreen, water, a snack, a little money, and whatever else you think you might need.

Can I bring kids?

If you want to bring little kids, please join us 8:30 Saturday morning for the walk to from Grand Park - about 2.5 miles. When you loop back, you can hang out in the park and let your kids splash in the fountain. We will help you carry your strollers up and down the stairs! Of course, kids are welcome at all times.

Is it going to be hard?

No and yes! There are long, flat stretches. There are short stairways and long ones. There are segments with multiple stairways. On the timetable, we’ll mark some of the segments by difficulty. But no matter what, it bears repeating that this is not a hard-core athletic event - in fact, it is the opposite. And remember, every single stairway is a public stairway; that means people walk up and down them every single day, so you can too.

How many stairs will you climb?

A lot.

Does the route have a design philosophy?

When it comes to the stairways - especially my other stairway routes (I’ve got about 20 of them, ranging from five to forty miles), all follow some basic rules. I made up the rules, and I try to obey them at all times. Why? Because I think they make the routes into real treks, and give them an aesthetic consistency.

Here are the rules:

1) We never go up and down the same stairway - with one exception.

2) The exception is if the stairways is a circuit, meaning that it has a built-in split that allows us to ascend and descend it in a way that’s fun (think of it as a revolving door.) There are about five stairways on the route that fall into this category, which I call “circuit stairs.”

3) The route never doubles back on itself. Ideally, we should never walk the same stretch of street twice. Sometimes, this is impossible to avoid. If that’s the case, I try to minimize doubling to as little as possible, and - if practical - walk on opposite sides of the street. This may sound nuts, and probably it is, but the point, again, is to make this a real exploration. Why see something twice?

4) We try to use only genuine public stairways. Sometimes, that’s hard to determine, but property tax and city assessor’s maps help. 5) On walks that claim to be complete - for example, and “Every Stairway in Silverlake East of the Reservoir” walk - we will add any stairway we find, no matter how it forces us to change a seemingly-perfected route. That’s part of the challenge. The new route must always meet the general rules.

5) Another design goal is to minimize the distance between stairs, so our routes tend to “tighten” over time as we find ways to make them more efficient.

6) The Big Parade is a little different in that it doesn’t attempt to include every stairway within the set boundaries of the trip (it can’t - we’d never get done in two days.) So the basic rule of what to include and what not to is that we don’t “cut” stairways that are on the outer fringes of the route.

7) Stairs that are very close to each other should be done in sequence. This is because they are usually built in sequence, or to serve similar needs. Plus, they’re fun to do all in a row.

How did you come up with the route?

My first stairway route was designed in 2003, and covered 47 sets in Silverlake and Echo Park. At the time, I thought I had them all. Now, six years later, I’ve learned to never claim completeness. My current list has about 150 stairways, of which the Big Parade route includes 100 (or more, depending on the final pathway.) But the route isn’t mine, and neither are the stairs. People like Adah Bakalinsky and Larry Gordon, who wrote 1990’s “Stairway Walks in Los Angeles,” along with the Sierra Club (a list of 14 stairways in the Franklin Hills) and the Echo Park Historical Society (a constantly expanding stairway list in that neighborhood), along with individual stair enthusiasts like Alissa Walker, Andrew Lichtman, and Ying Chen, all contributed their stairway “finds,” route corrections, and improvements.

How can I help you?

Join the Facebook group and say: “I want to help!” There’s lots to do.

I live or work along the route, and there’s something I’d like you to see. How can I show it to you?

Please! Though our time is limited, we’d love to hear from you. We’re including a guide to the route, and we want to include you. Write up a paragraph, send us a link, and let us know how you’d like to participate.

I have an idea!

The walk is open. We’ve had suggestions for surveys, scavenger hunts, songs. As long as we keep to your timetable, making the walk your own is very encouraged.

Do you hate cars? I’m asking because I live far away, and I have to drive.

No, we want you to walk, and if you have to take you car to meet us, that’s OK. But the Metro Red Line does stop just feet from our start point!

Does that mean I can follow you in car?

No. If you’re planning to photograph, blog, or just accompany us, you should do it on foot. Unicycles are OK, too.

Will my feet or any other part of me hurt?

You should wear OK shoes. If your feet hurt, or if you get hurt, you can’t hold us responsible, and we’re going to give you a flier when you arrive that informs you of that.

Is my picture going to be used anywhere?

There’s a possibility. I’m a writer, and I will be writing about this for publication. We will have an official photographer, and other people will be blogging, videotaping, and otherwise recording the event (you are encouraged to do so, as well.) By coming along, you acknowledge that you’re consenting to all these possibilities.

Will the walk be “led?” I’m afraid of getting lost.

Yes. It bears repeating (again) that we have a timetable. In addition, there will always be core group members at the front and back of the group, as well as at the middle. When you join us, please try to say hello so we can say hello back.

Who else is involved? How can I learn about them?

Lots of people. I’ve invited our other participants to introduce themselves on this website. Otherwise, you’ll find them on the walk.

I’m part of the news media and I want more info.

Contact us at bigparadela@gmail.com or post to this group’s discussion page.

Is there going to be media coverage?

We hope so.

Can I live blog, twitter, put this up on flickr, or otherwise add it to my social media site?

Yes, as long as you come along on foot. Or unicycle.

Can I take pictures or videos?

Yes. This is a public event. Make it your own

Will you be tweeting?

Yes, as a way of spreading the word, letting people know where we are, and generally updating the billions of people who are certain to take time from their busy lives to follow our progress. Follow us at Twitter here.

PLANNING TO GO LONG? Here’s what to bring:

Mostly, you’ll need common sense. Look at the timetables. If you’re planning to join us for more than a couple of hours, see if you’ll be with us during meal breaks. If you won’t, but think you’ll be hungry, be ready to eat on the go. Also check if there are any official bathroom and/or water sources along the way. If there aren’t, assume you won’t find them.

Other than that, sunscreen. Water. Snacks. Hat. Money.

PLANNING TO DO BOTH DAYS?

If you’re planning on doing the whole thing, it would be great if you could come on a practice walk with us. But time is short, we know, so that might not be possible. So, please remember that you’ll be responsible for maintaining the pace - which will be leisurely, to accomplish the goals of the walk - but will be highly structured as far as our rest breaks and visit stops are concerned. We’ll have a printed timetable, and keeping to it will be essential, so that others can join us. 

Who is answering these questions?

My name is Dan Koeppel. I’m a writer and resident of the Mt. Washington section of Los Angeles. I’ve been obsessively walking stairs - and coming up with stairway routes - for about six years, and I wrote a story about my initial 17-mile, 48-stairway walk that appeared in Backpacker magazine in 2003. I’m also the author of “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World,” which is a very good book that a lot of smart people like.

How do I contact you?

Our email is bigparadela@gmail.com. But if you have a question that you think should go on this FAQ, please see below.

The Big Parade is stupid.

You might be right. But not having one would be even stupider.

There’s a question missing from this FAQ.

Post your question on the discussion board of this group. 

Are you crazy? Walk in Los Angeles?

If you think Nobody Walks in LA, you’ve been looking out the window of your car too long!

Will there be churros?

If the heavens are kind.

FINALLY: There are formal rules governing how participants must treat each other during our walks. By joining the Big Parade, you agree to follow those rules. You should, therefore, read them. They’re here (PDF, opens in new window).