The event celebrating the release of James Harris' book, "Santa Monica Pier: A Century On The Last Great Pleasure Pier" was the first in a series of free events leading up to the pier's 100th birthday on Sept. 9.
"The survival of this historic landmark for a century is wonderful, when you consider the many challenges it has faced," said Ben Franz-Knight, executive director of the nonprofit Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp.
Though Venice and Ocean Park used to be home to some elaborate amusement parks built over the surf, the Santa Monica Pier is the only one left with a Ferris wheel, carousel, carnival-like rides and concessions.
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"As it stands, it is the only pleasure pier remaining on the West Coast, and its longevity is certainly a testament to its importance in the community," he said.
Upcoming events include:
-- "The Slideshow at the Pier" on April 18, featuring jugglers, fire-eaters, acrobats and more
-- "School's Out! A Celebration For Kids" on June 20, offering storytelling, dance performances and fashion shows
-- "La Monica Ballroom, Re-dux" on July 23, a dance party
-- Centennial Day on Sept. 9, featuring the rededication of the pier with a concert and fireworks show