It's hard to believe that in 1973 Santa Monica's City Council voted to tear down the town's historical pier and replace it with an artificial island with its own 1500-room resort hotel. Fortunately, cooler heads (outraged locals) prevailed and the pier is still with us, even though storms partially carried out the pier's demolition 10 years after the council had approved it. A century in the life of anything in Southern California is nothing short of a miracle, especially for a fragile landmark of wooden piles and planks that have been trod upon by hopeful fishermen and lovesick couples alike. Wednesday is the pier's official Big One Oh Oh, and things will begin quietly enough with a 7 a.m. interfaith blessing at the pier's western end.

Then, at 6 p.m., the pier will be rededicated amid speeches and rounds of personal recollections, as well as flourishes and fanfares from the Los Angeles Brass Ensemble at the arched gateway, to be followed by a ribbon-cutting that will inaugurate the next century of the “people's pier.” After this, it's on to the pier itself for a 100-minute party lasting from 6:45 to 8:25 p.m. This is followed by 25 minutes of concert segments from surf-guitar kahuna Dick Dale, the Big Bamboo Steel Drum Band and the Vybrations a capella group. The evening's capped by a fireworks spectacle that's scheduled to run between 8:50 and 9:15 p.m.

Miss this evening and you've got a lo-on-ng wait till the next one. Heads up: Santa Monica is not that nostalgic and will not be charging 1909 parking rates. In fact, parking's $20 a pop on the beach. See the celebration's Web site for parking and transportation tips.

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