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Independence Day: 2020 VS. 2021

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, and although the day has been celebrated across the U.S. ever since, Independence Day was only recognized as a federal holiday in 1941. Yet the U.S. has managed to establish plenty of traditions, from fireworks to parades to outdoor barbecues.

While the pandemic limited celebrations last year, our team will be making up for it this time around. Thanks to our state’s successful vaccination campaign, restrictions have been loosened this year—with expectations of a traditional Independence Day with parades, picnics, and fireworks. Read on to learn how our team is spending the day!


Becca Zhu

I usually spend my summers at home in Asia, so I have not gotten the chance to partake in Fourth of July celebrations––until now :) This year, I will finally get to attend a backyard BBQ and see what all the fuss is about. As the only person who likes anything sweet in my friend group, I was tasked with bringing dessert to our gathering. I’m looking forward to baking cookies and finally trying out some Tik Tok decorating hacks.

Jillian Hegedus

I spend every Fourth of July plotting to steal the Declaration of Independence a la Nicolas Cage, and this year will be no different now that lockdown has ended! Last year was spent (socially distantly) drinking beers on Laura’s back porch (even though she didn’t even mention me in her blurb below. It’s fine, Laura) and watching Hamilton on Disney Plus while my Irish partner pretended to care about the American Revolution. This year, we’re planning on walking over to Marina del Rey where we will join the sea lions in watching the fireworks explode over expensive yachts and boats.

John Garside

I’m a killjoy of the highest order, so I’ll be spending the 4th the same way I do every year--lamenting the terror of cats & dogs, complaining about noise and air pollution, and sneering at the gauche and gaudy displays of consumer driven patriotism. Anybody have a party they want to invite me to? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

John Sallee

Last year, my Independence Day was spent leaving Los Angeles to go back to my family in Alaska. As a born and bred Alaskan, I had to get back to the 49th state so that I could make it in time for the fishing season. I grew up fishing, dip netting and clam digging, so I couldn’t think of any other way to celebrate my American independence by subsistence. This year, I will be attending a Barb themed rooftop Fourth of July party in West Hollywood with my best friend and potential new roommate. No doubt that l will be celebrating to the fullest extent this year after getting my Masters degree! Now that is American Independence to me.

Laura Rosenthal

To be truthful, I can’t remember what I did last 4th of July. It kind of blended in with the whole summer of 2020 lockdown and all fireworks displays were cancelled. However, that didn’t stop lots of illegal ones! Luckily, my dog doesn’t seem distressed by fireworks and I have always loved them. This year, we are going to a local BBQ. I have always loved the energy and excitement of the celebrations, culminating in fantastic fireworks over the ocean. I make a mean multilayered flag cake that looks like the American flag when you cut into it. A few years ago, we had only eaten a few pieces at a friend’s house when we all went down to the beach to enjoy the fireworks. When we got back, her very large Newfoundland dogs had jumped up to the shelf where we had left the cake and there was red, white and blue cake and icing all over them and the kitchen. It was a memorable 4th moment!

Mariana Garcia Medina

Growing up, 4th of July was an exciting holiday to see fireworks and make hot dogs and hamburgers. My parents are Mexican immigrants and their first American co-workers told them once it was a day to make hot dogs and hamburgers. Since then, my dad was determined to celebrate Independence Day with hot dogs and hamburgers, even when we were not accustomed to making them. In 2020, we stayed home and made just that on our grill. This year, we plan to visit Central Oregon, spend some time in nature, and most likely, go to a restaurant to eat a hamburger or hot dog.

Mirian Fuentes

My views on Independence Day changed when I began taking American Studies courses during college. Questions on what this date represented (or didn’t) for diverse Americans across the country made this holiday a day of reflection versus a day of celebration. Last year, the pandemic made my Independence Day plans simple: calming my beloved dog from the noisy fireworks in my neighborhood. This year, I plan to spend this day watching fireworks in a park in Seattle with the same observance and reflection that I’ve made custom since I took these courses.

Melody Forsythe

2020 reduced our celebration of the Fourth of July and my brother’s famous barbeque and fireworks to our immediate family. We missed having family and friends come from far and wide across Southern California to spend the day outdoors. Last year, Los Angeles banned firework shows. However, this did not deter what seemed like the entire city from shooting loads of fireworks into the night sky. The showing of banned fireworks across the southland was so remarkable the local news covered the festivities. With firework shows officially on for 2021, we plan on watching the night sky fill with lights, sounds, and colors, while enjoying the love and closeness of family and friends once again. Good times, good times. Happy Fourth of July Los Angeles!

Seth Jacobson

Every year, we would line up on main street in the small town in Connecticut we grew up in and watch all the folks dressed in Revolutionary War outfits march by along with families in cars that had a direct family relation to the Revolutionary War through the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Connecticut, being one of the original 13 states, had many such families. The hardest years were 1967 and 1968, where there were protesters against the war in Vietnam on one side of the street and military vets on the other—yelling at each other. How things have changed but stayed the same...

Yesenia Vargas

I’m a first-generation American, so Independence Day for me was always about celebrating the path that my family took to get my generation here. My family would always get together and cook enough for an army: carne asada, jollof rice, homemade ice cream, the works. This country is a melting pot, and our cookouts showed it. Last year, I was quarantined in a studio apartment, so I just binged a few action movies and propped open my window to catch the fireworks. This year, with antibodies in my veins, I’m heading to Pasadena for a carne asada once more, and I can’t wait.


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