Images of Independence Day From Across California

Tuesday: A newly reopened state celebrates.


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A Fourth of July parade in Ojai on Saturday.Credit…Clara Mokri for The New York Times

Good morning.

Across California over the weekend, there were parades and fireworks — legal and not. Families had beach barbecues and flew American flags. Dogs were dressed for the occasion, and so were their people. Campers hiked in national parks, visitors lined up for Dole Whips at Disneyland, and children pressed their masked faces to the glass of the penguin exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The Fourth of July weekend felt like a preview of the summer to come in California, without limits on businesses or gatherings. In fact, this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state tourism officials have been trying to juice back up what was a $145-billion-a-year industry.

Tourism officials have framed vacationing in California by Californians as a kind of act of local patriotism.

It was a stark contrast with the holiday last year, when officials were pleading with residents to forego traditions, to stay away from loved ones in the face of a surge of coronavirus cases.

But some enduring fears lingered.

Public health leaders have warned of the risks of the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, especially for unvaccinated Californians. Officials across the country, including in California, described a violent weekend. The threat of bigger, destructive wildfires continues to loom. And we’re still in a devastating drought.

Nevertheless, the memory of the past year made the festivities this year more poignant.

“We missed out on so much missed memories, missed moments, missed celebrations and birthdays, you know, and that this year now we can get back to life,” Dr. Jerry Abraham told The Los Angeles Times in this feature about the meaning of the holiday. “So that to me is freedom. That to me is independence.”


Leilani Castanera before the Fourth of July parade in Ojai on Saturday.Credit…Clara Mokri for The New York Times


Visitors walking along the Swinging Bridge during a busy Fourth of July weekend at Zion National Park.Credit…Tracy Barbutes/Reuters


Fourth of July parade in Ojai on Saturday.Credit…Clara Mokri for The New York Times


Illegal fireworks explode in the sky as a Contra Costa firefighter works quickly to extinguish a vegetation fire in Antioch, Calif.Credit…Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Here’s what else to know today


A Gregory Creek-area home scorched in the Salt fire sitting in a clearing in Unincorporated Shasta County, Calif., on Friday.Credit…Noah Berger/Associated Press

Firefighters made progress on major blazes burning in Northern California, NBC Bay Area reports. But the potential for winds this week is concerning.

Wildfires and dry conditions have gotten so bad that even Hawaii, one of the wettest places on earth, is contending with the increased threat of burns.

Global warming is changing the experience of summer camp for children across the country. Some camp operators are taking it as an opportunity to educate campers about climate change.

A bitter irony? California ranchers aren’t benefiting from high beef prices in grocery stores. And the drought has forced them to scale back their herds, which is testing the faith of business owners, The Bakersfield Californian reports.

Seven years ago, ecologists were looking to restore a dried-out flood plain in Placer County. So, The Sacramento Bee reports, they brought in the area’s original flood manager: beavers.

The highly contagious Delta variant is now the dominant coronavirus strain in California and several other states, Yahoo News reports.

Still, breakthrough cases of Covid — or infections in a person who has been vaccinated — are exceedingly rare, CalMatters reports.

Over a quarter-century of covering the hunt for the Zodiac killer, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter writes that hundreds and hundreds of tips have come in from people who claim to have solved ciphers or cracked the case.

It could be a difficult summer for travelers who are facing delayed flights and long security lines, The Associated Press reports.

The Olympics will allow protests, but not during events or on medal stands. The change represents a softening of a no-protest policy, but many say it’s still too restrictive of speech.

The Giants unveiled new uniforms featuring the Golden Gate Bridge and fog. Fans had thoughts, NBC Sports reports.

“I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do.” The New York Times Magazine talks with LeVar Burton about his career — and, he hopes, hosting “Jeopardy!”

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

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