Living in the Land of Vanity Plates

Virginia Vanity PlatesThe Commonwealth has been called a lot of things. The Old Dominion and the Cradle of Presidents are just two. Our state tourism slogan is “Virginia is is for Lovers”. But our real name should be the Land of Vanity Plates.

According to Wikipedia a vanity plate or personalized plate is a special type of vehicle registration plate on an automobile or other vehicle. The owner of the vehicle pays extra money to have his or her own choice of numbers or letters, usually forming a recognizable phrase, slogan, or abbreviation on their plate.

In Virginia the state motor vehicles bureau has gone this definition one further. Actually, a lot lot more than one. To start with, the state offers more than 200 different types of plates for its drivers.

Many of our special plates represent the military, emergency personnel, fraternal orders and civic or community organizations. However, special plates also represent a variety of other groups such as colleges and universities, conservationists, hobbyists and amateur radio enthusiasts. In fact if you can get about 375 people with a like interest the state of Virginia will make a special plate for your group.

There’s the story about one Jimmy Buffet fan who solicited his fellow ‘Parrotheads’ and after about two of searching had enough fans to petition for a special plate. Sure enough, today you can get ‘Parrothead’ plates for a motor vehicle.

If you want everyone on the road to know that you went a particular college and university more than likely you can get it if there are enough fellow alumni living in the Commonwealth.

Then, we have plates for people’s jobs. Firefighters, police, real estate brokers and emergency responders all have plates; some more than one type. You can get a plate if you’re a Friend of Tibet, a Horse Enthusiast, Animal Friendly, an Aviation or Bicycle Enthusiast. They even have plates for bowlers.

In a word, the Commonwealth has something for almost everyone. I myself recently got a Civil War plate which I personalized CWWRTR (Civil War Writer) because I have a big Civil War blog.

Of course, the personalizations are endless. I live in Charlottesville the home of the University of Virginia so there endless variations of UVA and Hoo, a shortening of ‘Wahoo’ the unofficial name that much of the student body prefers to the more formal ‘Cavaliers’. We like to point out that our town is the real ‘Hooville’.

I’ve seen other plates that advertise how many children, dogs, cats and other animals people have. In, fact the state will put anything on your plates as long as it’s not obscene. So if you reside in the Land of Vanity Plates like I do live a little. It’s a small investment to make in standing out in a ‘vanilla’ world.

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