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July 4, 2020

Fourth of July party, 1955, Tehran, Iran

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there,” wrote L. P. Hartley in 1953. If you grew up in a foreign country, that really rings true. If the country had an American community, there would be some kind of celebration with games, rides, and picnics–maybe even band music and fireworks. But the Fourth, essentially an American holiday, is just another day in most countries, which of course have their own national celebrations. You might do something on your own–play some John Philip Sousa, cook up some hamburgers–or maybe go out, and enjoy the sunshine, because it’s July and it’s summer and you can always celebrate that.

Here in Southern California the Fourth of July is celebrated with beach days, barbecues, and fireworks. But this is the year of living differently. Our COVID case numbers are rising daily. It was interesting to watch the beach closures cascade through different layers of government over the last three days. First I heard on KNX radio that all the Los Angeles County beaches would be closed for the Fourth of July weekend. (Malibu even announced a $1,000 fine for going on the beach, but the L.A. County Sheriff’s office said they wouldn’t enforce it.) Then Ventura County (the next county north) wisely announced their beaches would be closed too.

And don’t think you can head south, Los Angeles, because Laguna Beach announced their beach closure on Tuesday. Then two Newport Beach lifeguards came down with COVID, which quarantined 23 of their colleagues, so Newport Beach closed, followed by Huntington Beach on Thursday, and then all of Orange County followed suit. Governor Newsom sealed the deal by closing all the states beaches.

That leaves some San Diego County beaches which are under city jurisdiction, and, last I heard, the state asked the cities to close the parking lots.

I think just about all the beaches are closed now, but if you’re wondering, check the Sacramento Bee below.

Or better yet, Google it. Things get out of date fast around here.

And then fireworks. Not banned everywhere in the state, but banned in Los Angeles County. And it looks like everyone’s going along with it. Except Lancaster, up there in the high desert, where the mayor has announced high-flaring fireworks that can be seen from a distance which you can watch from your car or standing outside, masked. It’s been a controversy all week. My daughter’s family lives there, so I wish them luck.

On our own: Fourth of July, 2012, Lemgo, Germany

In other years they would be staying at my house and looking forward to seeing the fireworks with the grandchildren around the lake this evening. For now, I’m content with a few decorations, a few phone calls to the kids, followed by having a friend over for a carry-in dinner and watch Hamilton instant streaming on Disney Plus. I thought it would be years before I got to see Hamilton, so I’m looking forward to it.

Hey, it’s the Fourth! Find a new way to celebrate. It’s the summer of 2020, a year we will never forget.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Lancaster planning fireworks tonight: City to defy state, county prohibitions on shows,” Antelope Valley Press, July 4, 2020. https://www.avpress.com/news/lancaster-planning-fireworks-tonight/article_0d8ec3c2-bd9d-11ea-9773-4fc02472cf68.html

“State Asks San Diego-Area Cities to Close Beach Parking Lots,” Times of San Diego, July 4, 2020. https://timesofsandiego.com/life/2020/07/04/state-asks-san-diego-area-cities-to-close-beach-parking-lots/

“Newport will close beaches on Fourth of July after lifeguard coronavirus infections; Huntington follows suit,” Daily Pilot, July 1, 2020. https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/story/2020-07-01/newport-beach-will-close-beaches-on-july-4-after-lifeguard-coronavirus-infections

“No Beach Access in Malibu on July 4: County also bans fireworks displays as virus surges in Southern California; sheriff claims he will not enforce beach closure.” Malibu Times, July 2, 2020. http://www.malibutimes.com/news/article_e5864734-bc38-11ea-bd5a-5bb2d7ee4e9e.html

“Coronavirus Infections Up in 36 States as U.S. Sets New Daily Record Ahead of July 4,” People, July 3, 2020. https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/coronavirus-infections-36-states-u-134325653.html

“Which California beaches are closed for Fourth of July weekend? Here’s your guide,” Sacramento Bee, July 1, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/california-beaches-closed-fourth-july-204331100.html

Other sources:

Quote from The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley (1953).

Johns Hopkins, Numbers of cases: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/state-timeline/new-confirmed-cases/california/0

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

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