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Plymouth pushing license plate commemorating town’s 400th anniversary

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Plymouth 400

Plans are underway to produce a special license plate commemorating Plymouth’s 400th anniversary.
The limited edition plate design features a light-blue image of the Mayflower ship encapsulating a solid white silhouette of a Native American man. Along the bottom of the plate reads the simple slogan: “1620 Plymouth 2020.”
The organizers of Plymouth’s 400th-birthday celebration hope to get that logo and slogan on the bumpers of 3,000 vehicles over the next two years.
They will cost $40 apiece, and $28 from each plate fee will go toward funding the town’s 400th-anniversary celebration in 2020.
Kevin O’Reilly, president of Plymouth 400, Inc., the nonprofit organization helping to plan the celebration, said the commemorative plate could prove to be an effective marketing tool.
“There’s a two-fold benefit in this: the publicity that we’ll get from people showing their pride in their community . . . [and] the $28 per plate that we’ll get as part of our fund-raising efforts,” he said. “Not only will we be spreading the word, we’ll be getting donations to help fund the anniversary.”
Under state law, charitable groups are allowed to create their own distinctive Massachusetts license plate series, but certain requirements must be met. First, the sponsoring organization must collect 1,500 applications for their special plate, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles must approve the design. Then, before any plates can go into production, the organization must either post a $100,000 bond or have 3,000 pre-paid applications that are ready to go. Once the funding is secured, the Registry of Motor Vehicles oversees production of the plates, which are manufactured at MCI-Cedar Junction, the state prison in Walpole.
There are currently 18 special license plates in circulation. One of the more popular designs is the “Right Whale,” which shows a whale’s tail splashing in the water. The “Cape Cod and Islands” plate features the Nauset lighthouse in Eastham overlooking the ocean. There’s a “Choose Life” plate that shows a mother cradling a baby in her arms with a big yellow heart in the background behind them.
In order for the “Plymouth 400” plate to become a reality, Plymouth’s 400th-anniversary organizers must compile commitments from 1,500 people who want to purchase plates. As of Sept. 13, they had received requests from 978 people. O’Reilly believes they can reach 1,500 by the end of the year.
“We’re getting close,” he said. “We’re optimistic.”
One of those applicants was Timothy Turner, manager of the Wampanoag Homesite at Plimoth Plantation. He owns and operates Native Plymouth Tours, which provides walking tours led by Native American guides, and also serves on the town’s 400th Anniversary Celebration Committee.
Turner said he likes the look of the “Plymouth 400” design, and he’s overheard some people say that the logo looks like a “Native American welcoming the ship ashore.”
In addition to collecting 1,500 applications, Plymouth organizers plan to put up a bond to cover the costs of producing the plate. O’Reilly is confident that they can get it done.
“You don’t have to live in Plymouth to have this license plate — anyone in the Commonwealth who owns a car can get one of these,” he said.
If all goes according to plan, Plymouth’s low-numbered plates (1 through 99) will be sold at auction, along with 10 others designating important years from the town’s history, including 1620 (when the Mayflower landed in Plymouth), 1621 (the year of the so-called “First Thanksgiving”), 1627 (because it’s always that year at Plimoth Plantation), 1820 (Plymouth’s Bicentennial), 1824 (when Pilgrim Hall was built), 1863 (when President Abraham Lincoln declared the first national Thanksgiving), 1920 (Plymouth’s Tercentenary), 1957 (the Mayflower II arrived from England), and 2020 (Plymouth’s 400th anniversary).
“Once people have them on their cars and people see them, hopefully that will spur more interest,” said O’Reilly.
To request a “Plymouth 400” plate, call 508-747-1620, extension 144, or visit the Plymouth 400th Anniversary website ( and fill out an interest form with your name, telephone number, e-mail address, and the number of plates that you’d like to order.
Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.

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