The Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach is a haven for Fourth of July parties and barbecues, but it's a different world we're living in these days, and while there wasn't as much red, white and blue revelry on display this year, the Wedge was ready to party.
Just in time for the holiday weekend, a large, girthy Southern Hemisphere swell rolled into Orange County. Down south, Trestles saw waves top 10 feet, while the Wedge stole the show with surf in excess of 20-foot. It was one of the best runs of surf in the area in recent memory.
But in a sign of the times, officials in Newport opted to close the beach for the Fourth of July holiday as coronavirus cases in California have been spiking lately. Two seasonal lifeguards in Newport have tested positive for the virus and another two dozen guards have had to quarantine, which would have left the city's first-responders short staffed.
But as we've seen time and again, surfers are gonna surf. Despite a police presence, there were some intrepid wave-riders and documentarians that defied the public order and scored what some are calling the biggest south swell at the Wedge since 2014's Hurricane Marie pulse lit things up.
"The forecast for the 4th was listed to be the biggest day in a few years. Next thing you know they announce they are closing down the beach in all of Orange County and LA," wrote filmer Brent Weldon on YouTube. "Had to risk it and go check it out. Being the first on on the sand i noticed the gates were open and it was go time."
Among the surfers and bodyboarders that braved the mutant beast, locals like Bobby Okvist, Sage Burke and Blair Conklin were on the scene, as was 2004 Pipe Master Jamie O'Brien and skim master Brad Domke.
It may not have been a typical Fourth of July in Newport, but for those that surfed the Wedge and lived to tell about it, there were still plenty of fireworks.