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July 4 celebrations in Southern California look different this year amid coronavirus case spike

The Ferris wheel begins to change to patriotic colors at dusk on the Santa Monica Pier for the July 4 holiday weekend.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Independence Day is looking a little different in the Southland this year.

Californians who hoped the July 4 weekend would bring a return to some semblance of summer fun will instead find closed beaches, restaurants limited to outdoor service in most areas of the state and increased enforcement of the state’s order requiring people to wear face masks in public places.

A holiday traditionally marked with the crackle of fireworks in the nighttime sky will see a lot less color as cities postpone or cancel concerts, parades and other festivities following a continuing surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Los Angeles County announced a fireworks ban, along with the closure of all area beaches, earlier this week to prevent what officials feared would be “dangerous crowding.” But Lancaster city officials appear ready to defy that ban and approve plans for its fireworks show to go on.

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Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said that council members will meet in an emergency meeting Saturday to consider his request for authority to issue a permit and sign a contract with a fireworks vendor for the show, which is scheduled for 9 p.m.

There will also be an element of protest this Fourth of July.

In Los Angeles, activists plan to launch a “we want green cards” campaign aimed at winning congressional support to change U.S. immigration laws to grant legal residency to those here illegally who have worked during the pandemic. Demonstrators in Leimert Park will rally for justice for Andres Guardado, the 18-year-old fatally shot by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies last month.

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Other protests against police brutality and racism are planned at Olvera Street downtown, Pan Pacific Park near Hancock Park, Hollywood and elsewhere.

Protesters have also organized a march called Farce of July to recognize Tongva “reclamation, guidance and direction in overcoming white supremacy and recovering our interdependence and connection to Mother Earth.”

California officials have begged the public to avoid crowds and keep physical distancing in hopes of preventing more outbreaks that could overwhelm the state’s hospitals. The changes in plans come as the statewide coronavirus death toll has topped 6,300. The state has seen a 58% increase in hospitalizations in the last two weeks.

In Big Bear, officials have postponed the city’s famed “fireworks spectacular” — an event that usually draws hundreds of families to the lake’s shore, where crowds lounge on beach chairs or take out their boats to watch the colorful show.

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Visitors have been asked not to bring their own fireworks, according to the city’s tourism website. Lighting fireworks in a national forest is a federal offense.

Burbank’s Starlight Bowl canceled its 2020 summer concert season, including the Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show, “to ensure the health and safety of our audiences, staff, volunteers, and our Burbank neighbors.”

To adapt to social distancing guidelines, some events have moved online. The 27th annual Fourth of July Run, Walk and Kids’ Dash, normally held in Redondo Beach, will take place virtually. Participants plan to run their courses separately, at home or in public, while following safety protocols.

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Then there is the “Grand Park + the Music Center’s 4th of July Block Party: Home Edition.” Vocalist San Cha, rapper D Smoke, singer Ginger Root, dancehall artist Amindi and comedy troupe Filipino AF are among the featured performers in a free, virtual edition of this annual downtown L.A. event. Also included: profiles of local artists, chefs and others. 7-8 p.m. Saturday at abc7.com and on L.A. County public access Channel 36; it continues 8-10 p.m. Saturday on youtube.com.

The 94th annual AmericaFest celebration at the Rose Bowl also goes online this year and includes a live flyover by vintage aircraft. Also planned: a daytime light show and a performance by cellist Cécilia Tsan. Local news anchor Pat Harvey hosts. 2 p.m. Saturday. Free. facebook.com/RoseBowlStadium


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