That’s changing beginning Jan. 1, as the “Sweet Home Alabama” tag will be replaced with a new design depicting green mountains and a lake scene, lit by a yellow sun.
Then-Gov. Bob Riley asked the state Tourism Department before the tag was to change in 2008 to design a beach scene to boost tourism along the coastline.
The new tag can do the same thing for the mountains of northern Alabama, said Ebonee Thompson, tourism and marketing director for the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a great way to show the diversity that Alabama has,” Thompsons said. “To go from the beaches to the mountains, there are not that many states that can do that. It makes everyone feel included, and tells our story.”
State law requires a new tag design every five years, said Carla Snellgrove, spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Revenue.
The new tag keeps the phrase “Heart of Dixie,” another requirement of state law. That phrase, written by the Alabama Chamber of Commerce and first seen on tags in 1955, covered the tops of tags early on. In 1978 it was moved into a small red heart on the top left corner. It changed slightly in the years after 1978, and was shrunk considerably in 2002 and moved into the right corner. The new tags keep the phrase in the same location.
Rep. Joe Hubbard attempted, but failed, to have the phrase removed from tags last year, saying people outside the state might link the term “Dixie” to slavery and segregation.
Calhoun County sold 68,023 of the “Sweet Home Alabama” tags last year, said Barry Robertson, Calhoun County license commissioner. The total number of tags sold in the county last year was 126,473.
Standard tags cost $23 and another $1.25 in local fees, in addition to an ad valorem tax based on the state-assessed value of the vehicle.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.