Santa Monica community leaders, local personalities and event organizers kicked off a year-long celebration September 9th to mark the 100th anniversary of the Santa Monica Pier next year.

The pier, seen in hundreds of movies and visited by millions each year, turns 100 years old on September 9th next year.

The centennial countdown clock began ticking during the pier’s birthday this year at the 1550 Beach Parking Lot, where a statement was read from the honorary Centennial Committee co-chair, actor Robert Redford.

The kickoff included a sneak peek at the upcoming year’s activities and a ride on the futuristic “Sand Tram,” described as a revolutionary new mode of transportation on the beach that is intended to make destinations along Santa Monica’s beach more accessible from the parking lots and coastal access points.

The prototype Sand Tram, a 60-foot-long beach trolley capable of carrying 100-plus passengers, typifies the centennial’s theme of “100 years in the past, 100 years in the future,” officials said. The natural-gas-powered vehicle will travel on the sand and transport beachgoers between the parking lots, the Pier, and the new Annenberg Beach House currently under construction. It will help restore beachfront transportation once provided by electric trams until the 1960s, officials said.

The Santa Monica Pier Centennial is presented by the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation.

Information, www.santamoni