Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the holiday shopping season is officially underway. (I am well aware that others may argue that the holiday shopping season has been underway for a while now, possibly since Labor Day. But I am a traditionalist, and I don't begin my shopping until after I've had my turkey.) Going to the stores to shop means finding a spot to park, which means plenty of opportunities to check out the cars around me, and in particular, their license plates.
License plate spotting has always been a hobby of mine. Whenever I'm out and about, I look at the plates of the other cars. When I was a kid, I was always excited to see plates from distant states, or even from other countries. But in recent years, even local plates have become more exciting, with the explosion of specialty plates.
In Virginia, you can get a license plate commemorating your alma mater, or to indicate that you're a fan of the Air and Space Museum, the swallowtail butterfly, the Chesapeake Bay, bowling, steam locomotives, or Jimmy Buffett. If you're a Shriner, a Harley owner, an organ donor, a Rotarian, or a firefighter, you can let the world know about it on your Virginia plate. But what if you're a proud Restonian? Wouldn't you like a way to show that?
For the past four years, RCA has led a campaign to make a Virginia license plate to celebrate Reston. We had a design contest, and selected a beautiful design by Reston artist Doug Fuller. The look of the Reston plate has won universal acclaim from everyone who's seen it; it's a clean, appealing design that speaks to what we love about Reston.
RCA's Second Vice President, Dan McGuire, has been the driving force behind our campaign for several years now, aided and abetted by a former RCA Board member, the tireless and always-energetic Jane Wong. We've been promoting this plate at local shopping centers, at the park-and-ride lots, and at our meetings. It's been featured in the local media. (Reston Patch about it in August.) Every time we show it to people, they love it and want to get it for their cars.
So why can't you go to the DMV and get a Reston plate right now? Because we need more people to sign up. In order to get a special license plate design in Virginia, it has to be approved by the General Assembly (as well as the DMV). And in order for the General Assembly to approve it, we need to have 450 completed applications in hand. And as much as people like the plate, it's been a challenge to turn the interest into applications. Some people don't realize that we need the applications in hand, and decide to wait until it's approved before signing up. Some people take the applications home and forget to fill them out, or forget to send them in. Some people already have other specialty plates, and they're not sure they want to give those up. And so, despite all Dan and Jane's hard work, the license plate is not yet a reality.
You say you want to help out, and sign up for a plate? Great! You can get the form right on RCA's website. Download the form, fill it out, and send it in. This is important, though: Don't send the form to the DMV. Send it to RCA. Make sure that you include your $10 application fee with the form. (If you're sending a check, please make the check out to RCA. We will deposit your money into a special account, which will be turned over to the DMV when the plate is approved. This money is strictly for the plate, and won't be used for other RCA activities.) If you have any questions about the form, you can email or call either Dan or me, and we'll be happy to walk you through it.
RCA is determined to get this plate approved in 2012, so we can start seeing it on the road. In order to make that happen, though, we need your help. If you've been meaning to sign up for the plate but haven't gotten to it yet, do it now. If you've already signed up for a plate, tell your friends and neighbors. You can help us reach our goal. There are over 50,000 Restonians out there; I'm sure we can get 450 of them to sign up for this plate.
If we reach our goal, maybe when I pull into my parking spot during next year's holiday shopping season, I'll be able to look around and see those beautiful Reston plates parked right next to me. If Jimmy Buffett can do it, so can we.