By Fred Swegles

For a 90-year-old, San Clemente’s iconic 1,300-foot-long fishing Pier is looking pretty healthy.

Okay, so it’s been toppled by storms and rebuilt a couple of times, 1939 and 1983. It’s also had multiple major surgeries. The most recent was a $1.8 million rehab performed by the city this year.

The biggest birthday bash in the Pier’s history is about to launch. You’re invited.

Events will include:

Sept. 28: A “Sunset Dinner” to raise funds for the Pier from 5:30-9 p.m. at the Fisherman’s Restaurant, $150 per person, together with a silent auction.

Oct. 11: “A Cruise into History,” 4:30-6:30 p.m., from Dana Wharf Sportfishing to the Pier and back, learning historical facts about the Pier from guest speakers, $60 per person or $200 per party of four, including wine and appetizers, proceeds benefitting the Pier.

Oct. 15: “H.H. Cotton’s Amplified,” an evening at H.H. Cotton’s, 5-9 p.m., with live music by Paul Jackson from 5-8 p.m. plus drawings and a silent auction, with a percentage of food and beverage sales going to the PierPride Foundation.

Oct. 25: PierPride’s 3rd annual “Light Up the Pier,” festivities from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Pier, including live music, and see how many people can line the Pier railings at 6:30 p.m. and hold up lighted cell phones in unison for a photo to show solidarity for the Pier’s future. No admission fee. Donations welcome.

Every Monday in October: Charity bingo at Goody’s Tavern, 7-9 p.m. on Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, $1 per bingo card, benefitting PierPride, plus raffles and a silent auction at the Oct. 29 finale.

Why do all this?

The city of San Clemente and the PierPride Foundation have proclaimed October to be PierPride Month to raise awareness about the Pier’s funding challenges and organize fun events to raise funds.

This year’s $1.8 million rehab was the first in four decades that the city had to fund from its general budget. From 1975 to 2012, the city had a San Clemente Redevelopment Agency that paid for Pier rehabs and for other Pier Bowl enhancements. The RDA was a mechanism, allowed by state law, that funded Pier Bowl improvements by setting aside some of the property taxes that Pier Bowl landowners paid to the state each year.

In 2012, the state government ended local redevelopment agencies to keep the money for itself.

That left the city in a pinch. In 2016, the PierPride Foundation surfaced to ask for community help developing an endowment for the Pier’s long-term health and to produce some niceties for the Pier.

Enhancements this year

* The foundation will install recycling canisters so people fishing can properly discard leftover line. The goal: Prevent wildlife from becoming entangled.

*The foundation will replace seven signs that tell visitors about some things they can view from the Pier—Seal Rock, Cotton’s Point, San Clemente Island, Catalina Island, West Reef, Dana Point, Casa Romantica, whales, dolphins, gulls and pelicans. The signs are aging. The wording also will get a few needed tweaks.

What it costs: Sponsoring a sign for 10 years is $10,000, including design, installation and maintenance. Sponsors will be recognized on each sign. Six of the seven signs already have sponsors. The canister project is a $4,000 fund drive accepting donations online.

How to act: Visit www.pierpride.org to learn more, sign up for events, sponsor a sign or donate toward recycling canisters, or call Jim Nielsen at 949.422.2943.

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