VA Blue Ridge Parkway License Plate
The proposed Virginia license plate to support the Blue Ridge Parkway will carry the same design as the successful, six-year-old North Carolina parkway tag.
Six years and two failed attempts later, a dedicated Blue Ridge Parkway speciality plate is at the edge of becoming a reality. Here's how to help the cause and the cash-strapped parkway.
A BIT OF CONTEXT FIRST: About six years ago, the North Carolina-based Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation went to the North Carolina general assembly and came away with a beautifully designed, retro-looking specialty plate that Carolina drivers could purchase, and thereby support the parkway both visually and financially.
That plate quickly became North Carolina's number-one specialty plate.
Six years later, you can't drive anywhere in the state without seeing the distinctive yellow-and-green tags, which have now generated more than $300,000 in desperately needed funds for the parkway.
Not long after the success in North Carolina, the Foundation – with the support of fellow parkway-supporting organizations Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Western Virginia Land Trust and the Blue Ridge Parkway Association – worked with Virginia Delegate Morgan Griffith to create a similar program in Virginia.
Unfortunately, that effort failed. The combination of Virginia's huge array of specialty plates, a less-than-distinctive design and a generally lower awareness of the parkway in Virginia than in North Carolina (to the tune of $5 being spent on the N.C. section of the parkway for every $1 in Virginia), resulted in an insufficient number of applications to launch the program.
Fast forward to about three years ago, when the active, tree-planting, Roanoke-based, 8,000-member Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway organization went back to Griffith and the general assembly. One result was a new design, carrying an image of Mabry Mill, but still on the white field of most Virginia speciality plates. And another result was a second failure to garner enough commitments for the plate to launch it.
This year, as the parkway turns 75, the Friends group has once again gone to the Virginia legislature, this time through Delegate Lacey Putney of Bedford. And this time with a tag design that, by virtue of its being identical to the North Carolina plate, will both brand the parkway and jump out from amid the nearly countless white-field Virginia specialty plates.
That's where you and I come in: In order for the Virginia parkway plate program to launch, we need 350 commitments to it between now and December. The cost is $25.
Once established, the plates that Virginia drivers purchase will join North Carolina's in supporting America's Favorite Scenic Drive.
If you're ready to sign up, you can do so by going to BlueRidgeFriends.org.
Or, if you'd like to be a part of what we hope will be a crescendo of sign-ups, please join us on September 11 at Cumberland Knob, N.C. (Milepost 217) and the Blue Ridge Music Center, Va. (MP 213). Live music with Ralph Stanley, Sierra Hull and many others will be the primary focus of the official 75th anniversary celebration of parkway groundbreaking, which occurred on September 11, 1935.
The events will also provide a great opportunity to step forward and sign up for a Virginia Blue Ridge Parkway plate.