South Charlotte

The sun is setting on Palmetto license plates

Drivers around Fort Mill and the rest of South Carolina are sporting the latest car jewelry – the newly issued sunrise license plate.

Much to the chagrin of the many residents who loved their Palmetto plate, the new design became the official replacement in July. If you still have the Palmetto plate on your vehicle, expect to receive the sunrise plate in the mail once you renew your tags.

“Palmetto plates should be completely phased out by July 2009 – all 2.7 million will be replaced,” said Beth Parks, S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles communications director.

So why do we have to relinquish our beloved “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places” plates?

“South Carolina law requires us to replace plates approximately every six years,” said Parks.

The S.C. DMV conducted a design competition for the new plate and got more than 300 submissions. A panel of judges narrowed the field to three choices and put it up for a public vote last summer. In August 2007, Matthew Kamann's sunrise design won, receiving more than 102,000 votes. Kamann, a resident of Mount Pleasant, said the design reflected the sunrise views he often saw at the golf course where he worked, Parks said.

“The new sunrise plate is the first license plate chosen by South Carolina citizens,” Parks said.

The plate features a dark blue palmetto tree and crescent moon against the sunrise. The blue color is palmetto blue, the same color used in the state flag, said Parks. The S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism designed the new slogan/Web site, TRAVEL2SC.COM, which appears at the bottom of each plate.

The new design is not without its critics. Parks said that many have complained that it looks like it should be from Arizona because of the “mountains.” “The background is treetops, not mountains,” she said.

Then there is the moon problem. “The plate originally had no moon, but the judges wanted one in there, so we put one in. Now people complain that it is astrologically impossible for the moon to be there,” said Parks.

Some claim the plate has a Clemson look about it, but Parks, a Carolina fan, adamantly denies any connection.

You can't please everyone. Just ask the people who told Parks the old Palmetto plate looked like a piece of broccoli.