The Santa Monica Pier is ostensibly for Santa Monicans, but if you ask the average resident when the last time they visited was, they might be a little ashamed of their answer. The new Pier Locals’ Night event series seeks to change that and will be drawing on the talented entertainment provided by local businesses to draw out residents for an afternoon and evening of Santa Monica centric programming.

The event series is kicking off this Thursday, March 10 and will thereafter run on the third Thursday of every month, before taking a brief hiatus for the summer and returning in September. The festivities will begin at 3 p.m. and continue until 10 p.m. with music, theatrical performances, children’s activities, food and drinks specials and more all geared towards a local crowd.

“There’s always been a clear mission to keep the Pier Santa Monican’s pier. But how do you do that? We are a top tourist destination and that’s great… but when you’re so popular with tourists, there seems to be an obstacle towards getting the locals here,” said Pier Corporation Executive Director Jim Harris. “That’s what Locals’ Night is all about; it’s by Santa Monicans for Santa Monicans.”

Many favorite community organizations will be on deck on Thursday night offering a wide range of activities for locals to explore.

Activities begin at the base of the Pier at 3 p.m. with the Cayton’s Children Museum hosting arts and crafts inside the Merry-Go-Round Building. Residents can then wander down to Rusty’s where the Santa Monica Public Theater will be staging two readings of the “Save the Pier!” play at Rustys, the first at 7 p.m. and the second at 8 p.m. After enjoying the fine theatrics, there is more art to be seen by continuing to walk westward all the way to the end of the Pier where local street photographer Calvin Leonard will be hosting an exhibit on the viewing platform.

After getting a complete arts and culture fix in, residents can then kick back, relax and enjoy any of the music performances happening across the Pier. The Santa Monica Music Center’s White Chocolate Martini jazz band will be posted up at Pacific Park from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and DJ “Elder DJ Saltwater” will be playing at Rusty’s from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and again from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will also be a series of DJ sets from KCRW and the Pico Youth and Family Center taking place all evening at the West end of the Pier.

While the entertainment will be running until 10 p.m. Harris suggests residents make it to the Pier by 5:45 p.m. so they can take in the sunset.

“The sunsets here are spectacular anyway, but when you add an entertainment element like live music or a DJ it just becomes over the top special and we’re very excited about that part,” said Harris.

During all of this fanfare the Pier’s businesses will continue to operate their normal hours and offer a range of deals for food, drinks and even trapeze classes.

Following this Thursday’s kick-off event, Locals’ Night will take place again on April 21 and May 19. After the summer hiatus it returns on Sept. 15 for an extra special celebration and will continue to run every third Thursday of the month through the end of the year.

“In September we’ll be celebrating the 100th Birthday of those 44 wonderful hand carved wooden horses that are down below my office here and I think you know which ones I’m talking about… the carousel turns 100 in September! So, we will do something big then,” said Harris.

According to Harris, it has long been a mission of the Pier Corporation to connect with more locals and the specific idea for Locals’ Night came from Board Member Nicholas Rolston.

Harris said the concept is loosely inspired by the early days of the Twilight Concert Series, when before the event became a crowd building behemoth, it was a locally focused summer series that drew the community together.

“It had a very modest beginning that really grew into something special that the community enjoyed for decades and that’s what we’re shooting for here with Locals’ Night,” said Harris. “Not that we’re trying to put on the big event that Twilight became, but really to start with that grassroots feel and grow it into something special for community members to look forward to each month.”

For more information on Locals’ Night visit https://www.santamonicapier.org/localsnight

clara@smdp.com