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Spectators watch fireworks explode during the 45th annual Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks display overlooking the Manhattan skyline at Gantry State Plaza in Long Island City in the Queens borough of New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Fireworks displays marking Independence Day returned with a bang across the U.S. after last year's cancelations due to the pandemic, as thousands of Americans turned out this July Fourth holiday weekend.

The big picture: Health precautions were in place at many events, though restrictions had eased at some, in a reflection of the huge COVID-19 vaccine rollout — like at a D.C. event with no social distancing, where "maskless actors dressed as George and Martha Washington" entertained maskless tourists, per the Washington Post.

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks display from the second-floor balcony of the executive residence of the White House during an Independence Day event on the South Lawn. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Spectators watch the annual Independence Day fireworks display outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia on July 4. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images
Fireworks explode near the shore of Goldstons Beach on July 4, 2021 in White Lake, North Carolina. Photo: Lance King/Getty Images
People fill the National Mall to watch the fireworks display during Independence Day celebrations on July 4 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Independence Day fireworks erupt over the Philadelphia Art Museum on July 4 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images
People gather along Main Street to watch fireworks while celebrating Independence Day on July 4 in Sweetwater, Tennessee. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Defending Champion Joey Chestnut wins after consuming 76 hot dogs and setting a new world record at the 2021 Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4 in New York City. Photo: Bobby Bank/WireImage via Getty Images
Fireworks explode over Sea World San Diego as part of their Independence Day celebrations on July 3 in San Diego, California. Photo: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images
Fans enjoy a post-game fireworks display in celebration of the Fourth of July weekend series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants during the MLB game at Chase Field on July 3, in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo: Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Go deeper: Biden says U.S. is close to "independence from a deadly virus"

Go deeper

Southern California beaches reopen, as oil spill cleanup continues

Oil spill cleanup workers search for contaminated sand and seaweed at Huntington Beach in California on Oct. 9. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

A Southern California coastal area closed since one of the largest oil spills in the state's recent history struck over a week ago reopened Monday, as cleanup efforts continue.

The latest: Huntington Beach's reopening Monday came sooner than many expected, after water quality tests came back with no detectable levels of oil associated toxins in the ocean water, AP reports.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.