Fourth of July Isn't the Only Independence Day in L.A.

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. Cities across the nation will be celebrating America's independence from Great Britain -- or rather use it as an excuse to fire up the grill, guzzle down some light domestic beers, and enjoy the festive (mostly Chinese-made) fireworks displays from their favorite perch.

But what does this summer holiday mean in Los Angeles County, where approximately 3.5 million, or 36 percent, of the 9.8 million-plus population are foreign-born?* And to the 1.9 million who are non-U.S. citizens?* There's no doubt many of them will still be enjoying the day with traditional American festivities, like gobbling down burgers and watching others gobble down hot dogs on TV. But to those to whom this day has no political meaning, it may be just a day off.

In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, Independence Day does not always fall on the Fourth of July. Looking at photos from the Los Angeles Public Library, let's take this patriotic holiday to see how Angelenos of different backgrounds celebrate and display their cultural pride.

Greek Independence Day, March 25
Although Greek Independence Day has been honored in L.A. in the past, the largest celebration of Greek culture in Southern California is the L.A. Greek Fest, held in September .Celebrating Greek independence day in front of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation (now St. Sophia) in Los Angeles, 1946 | Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

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Israel Independence Day, April 26
Since 1989, the Israel Independence Day Festival has been held in Van Nuys; the event now attracts over 45,000 visitors each year.  Israel's Independence Day Festival in Van Nuys, 2002.

Cuban Independence Day, May 20
Historically home to a large Cuban community, Echo Park has hosted the annual Cuban Festival near its independence day since 1993.
Echo Park Cuban Festival, 1997 | Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

Philippine Independence Day, June 12
Home to the largest concentration of Filipino-Americans in the country, Los Angeles has hosted many events in honor of the Philippine Independence Day, including a parade in downtown L.A. From 1946-1961, the day was celebrated on July 4th, the date granted by the U.S. as the day of independence. The date was changed to June 12 in 1962, to honor the actual date of its independence from Spanish rule in 1898.
Grand Independence Day Ball and Coronation of Queen of the Filipino Community of Los Angeles, Inc. held at the Hollywood Palladium. July 4, 1962 | Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

Korean Independence Day, August 15
The Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro was donated by the Republic of Korea in 1976. It can be heard three times each year: Fourth of July, Korean Independence Day, and New Year's Eve. Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro, 1991

India Independence Day, August 15
India's Independence Day is celebrated at various locations around Los Angeles, including downtown L.A., Woodland Hills, Van Nuys, and Artesia.Los Angeles Civic Center Mall was the site for a celebration of India's Independence Day, 1981 | Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

Mexican Independence Day, September 16
In honor of Mexican Independence Day, a parade has gone through East Los Angeles since 1946. Salvadorian Independence Day, which falls on September 15, is often celebrated concurrently, as part of Central American Independence Day. 	Antonio, on horseback and dressed as a charro, in a 16th of September parade commemorating Mexico's independence from Spain at Brooklyn Avenue and Ford Boulevard in East Los Angeles | Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

*2010 Census

Top: Los Angeles Independence Day Parade, July 5, 1999. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library.


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