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Around America, a spirited Fourth

By Craig Johnson, Special to CNN
  • President hosted a cookout at the White House for U.S. service members and their families
  • GOP presidential hopefuls for 2012 spent the day meeting with supporters at various events.
  • Many ski resorts in Northern California were open, thanks to above-average winter precipitation

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama thanked U.S. service members and their families Monday by hosting them on the South Lawn of the White House for a patriotic cookout and fireworks display.

"After all that you do for our country every day, we wanted to give you guys a chance to get out of uniform, relax and have some fun," Obama said.

And fun was the order of the day as Americans celebrated Independence Day around the nation with flags, fireworks and food.

Monday evening, revelers along the Hudson River enjoyed the Macy's annual fireworks show, which usually attracts around 2 million people each year.

In Washington, a display on the National Mall lit up the night sky with the Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop.

In key states around the nation, GOP presidential hopefuls for 2012 spent the day meeting with supporters at various events.

Meanwhile, the rest of us settled in for a summer day as, well, American, as apple pie.

The Red

In several drought-stricken regions, local authorities banned fireworks because of the risk of wildfires.

In Mansfield, Texas, residents such as Darnell Cramer had to check in with fire officials before she bought fireworks, according to CNN affiliate KDAF.

"We've talked to the fire marshals out here and they've told us to water every couple of hours for the next 24 hours until we set them off," she told KDAF. "We've got two fire hoses on each side. We've got 50 feet and we've already cleared a pile of land out and dug a hole so they're all contained in a small section."

Fireworks vendors in some parts of Texas said they were in the red because of a recent ban on the sale of fireworks.

"It truly is hard," Dewey Jones told CNN affiliate KHOU. "It's not just the money. It's the idea. It's the idea of government interference just to save a little brown grass along the side of the road," he was quoted as saying.

According to KHOU, Jones said the ban means 650 part-time jobs will be gone and he'll be out more than $1 million in sales; half of which would have been profit.

In Utah, fireworks were possibly the cause of a wildfire, said a spokeswoman with the Utah Bureau of Land Management. CNN affiliate KSL reported that authorities Monday were still investigating the cause of the Red Butte blaze that was discovered the day before.

The White

As in snow.

It was big this Fourth in Northern California as several Lake Tahoe ski resorts, among them Squaw, Kirkwood and Apline Meadow, dusted off their ski lifts and welcomed skiers and snowboarders to the slopes.

Higher-than-normal winter precipitation has allowed snowcaps to retain their fleece, as deep as 15 feet in some areas.

"Thanks to Mother Nature we are able to do this," Alpine spokeswoman Rachael Woods told the Sacramento Bee newspaper. "It's such a special, unique way to spend part of your holiday weekend," she was quoted as saying.

The Blue

In St. Louis, Missouri, a Maroon 5 concert and fireworks display were canceled because of rainy weather, according to CNN affiliate KSDK.

A recent Marist poll also could give people the blues. It found about a quarter of Americans, mostly young adults, don't know what country the United States declared independence from.

But we won't dog them out too much. There's food to be eaten, music to enjoy, a spirited Fourth in the (fire)works.