Sweet Home Alabama Beach … or Mountains?


Probably no one else is this touchy about their license plate, but I am seriously not looking forward to September when I have to renew my plates because I do not want the new Alabama license plate.

It’s pretty and all — a nice beach scene that takes you there to the smell of the ocean, the feel of the wind and sounds of crashing waves (who know a license plate could do so much?)

But do you know how much of Alabama has a beach? Looking at a map, it looks like roughly 50 miles of beaches. So the entire state of Alabama, which has more lakes, rivers and mountains than any other geographical features, is going to wear a license plate with a beach on it?

According to a news article about it, the idea is to promote Alabama tourism, and because the coastal areas of Alabama generate like one-third of tourism income they chose a beach. Our governor is quoted as saying, “A lot of people outside of Alabama don’t even know that we have beaches. When we put more than three million tags showing sea oats and a beautiful sunset over water into circulation, that will change.”

There’s a lot I could say in response to that, but as a native of northern Alabama I’ll just say that I’m not so happy with having to promote a beach some 400-miles away on my vehicle. I support the state and would of course benefit if the state benefits from extra money from tourism. But I want tourism in my neck of the state too. Maybe there should be regional license plates. If you live in Mobile, you can get a beach scene. If you live in the Tennessee Valley, as I do, you can get a nice mountainous scene. If you live in flat farm country you could get a scene of a flat farm.

I like the idea a co-worker had of being able to buy a plate that says you’re a native of a certain city. Since I live in the Rocket City, maybe the plate for my region would have a rocket on it. (Actually there is a plate like that, but for a different purpose.)

Or maybe license branches should do like the Postal Service and let you customize your tag with an image of your choice. OK, nevermind, that’s a bad idea. That could get kinda gaudy and be hard for the cops to read when they’re pulling you over.

Sigh. It just breaks my heart to be driving around in the beautiful Alabama mountains and valleys and seeย  a pastel beach and ocean scene on the back of all the cars.

I do, however, like the Lynyrd Skynyrd “Sweet Home Alabama” over the current “Stars Fell on Alabama.” So maybe it’s not all bad.

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4 thoughts on “Sweet Home Alabama Beach … or Mountains?

  1. But wouldn’t the regional approach of only promoting the beach for people who live there, and the mountains for people who live there sort of defeat the whole point?

    For me, I’m just glad that the design and the slogan of the new tags are better than the “Stars Fell On…” ones we had for too many years. Are they perfect? Not hardly. But they’re still an improvement. So I’m glad to see them just that they replace those monstrosities.

    I would, however, be interested in seeing this become the first in a series of tag designs that highlight different features of the state.

  2. Calluna says:

    No, it wouldn’t because the point is not to promote within Alabama anyway. I guess they’re thinking we’ll be promoting Alabama as we vacation elsewhere.

  3. David’s point has some merit. Most Alabamians don’t go to our beaches. They go to Destin, Ft. Walton, etc. It may be a good idea to push ours within the state – I guess. I just don’t think it’ll make that big an impact or that it’s a priority. But I think Heather is correct in surmising they intend it primarily as an out-of-state promotion. But, frankly, once you put 47AEN58 on it in 3.5-inch type, you won’t really be able to tell it’s a beach unless you’re staring at it in a parking lot from four feet away.

  4. Well, my thought also was, people in this part of the state are more likely to be going to Nashville, and possibly Atlanta, than people down at the coast. Sure, people from anywhere in the state may be as likely to drive to, say, Texas. But travel to other states within 200 miles would mean that regional beach plates were seen mostly by people in beach regions already.

    Apparently some Mississippi people are displeased with the new tags there, for similar reasons. The new Mississippi tags features a lighthouse, honoring the way the state unified after Hurricane Katrina. However, some argue that it’s a very non-representative image of Misssissippi in general, compared to, say, the magnolia blossom on the two preceeding tags.

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