The 2013 All-America City Quilt left Denver, Colorado, today to begin the first leg of an 11-month, 13 state odyssey.

Each year, finalists in the All-America City Award program are asked to submit quilt squares representing something special about their communities. The squares are stitched together into a quilt, which tours the country visiting each finalist town, city, county or region.

“The quilt has come to be an important part of the All-America City Awards," said NCL President Gloria Rubio-Cortes. "It symbolizes people working together to make their communities better places to live, work and play. The tour gives communities another opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments in a very public and visible way."

Southwest Airlines, the Official Airline of the All-America City Awards, is launching the quilt on its national tour again this year. The quilt will stop in each finalist community for several days, where it will go on display in public buildings and community centers.

Typically, the quilt squares feature images that are unique to the individual communities, perhaps a logo, a motto or a well-known local landmark or natural feature. Colorado Springs, for example, included an image of Pike's Peak. Dubuque, Iowa's patch shows a bridge over the Mississippi River.

First up on the quilt’s tour will be Birmingham, Alabama, one of 10 winners of the 2013 All-America City Award. The last stop (August 2014) will be in Norfolk, Virginia, also a 2013 All-America City.

In between it will make appearances in each of the 2013 AAC finalist communities, including Sarasota County, Florida, an All-America City in 2006, where the quilt and those from past years will be displayed at a local quilt show in March

The 2013 AAC sponsors include The Piton Foundation, The Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Southwest Airlines – The Official Airline of the All-America City Awards, PCL Construction Enterprises, El Pomar Foundation, Greenberg Traurig, Merrick & Company, Google, BBVA Compass, the City of Aurora, Colorado, the City of Lakewood, Colorado, Carl & Lily Pforzheimer Foundation, FirstBank, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.