Reactions mixed to commemorative 1812 license plate

Joseph Cox Jenkins clearly liked the new design of the Maryland license plate, featuring the U.S. flag flying over Fort McHenry amid rockets' red glare.

But the toddler, just shy of 2 years old, might never drive a vehicle with the new tags.

Motorists registering new cars and trucks will receive the new design only through 2015, according to the MVA. Anyone renewing registration who wants the new design will have to pay an additional $20.

Jenkins' parents and others who went to register new vehicles Monday — Flag Day — were among the first Maryland motorists to pick up the new standard-issue tags, which commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The new plate features images from the war's 1814 battle at Fort McHenry. The sight of the bombs bursting in air above the fort's ramparts inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Passenger and multipurpose vehicles will receive the new standard plates, as well as trucks. But drivers could transfer existing plates to new vehicles, said MVA spokesman Buel Young. Trailers, street rod and historic vehicles will get the black-and-white plate.

Drivers will still be able to request the Chesapeake Bay and Agricultural plates, for an additional $20 fee each time they register or renew.

Joseph Cox's father, Willie, and his wife, Jennie Jenkins, of Curtis Bay didn't realize that new plates were being issued until they saw the poster in the lobby of the Glen Burnie MVA.

"We picked the right day to come get tags," he said.

Jennie liked the new plates because blue is her favorite color. But Willie Jenkins wasn't sure whether it would go with the color of his tan Buick Regal.

Other drivers also liked the new plates. Mohamed Chehaima of Elkridge first saw the design when he opened the package outside the MVA building.

"Anything is new, you like it," said Chehaima, a native of Morocco who moved to Maryland 11 years ago. The plates were destined for a Nissan Altima for his 20-year-old son.

Not everyone was sold on the new image, however. Brittany Holloway of Catonsville was a fan, but her mother, Monica, was not.

"I like it. It's not plain like the all-white tags." said Brittany, who was picking up plates for her first car, a Honda Accord, at the Glen Burnie MVA on Monday.

But her mother said she didn't appreciate the new red, white and blue image.

Most people either love it or they hate it, said Conrad Snedgar, manager of Norman's Tags and Title Service, which has offices in Lutherville and Essex.

"There doesn't seem to be any middle ground," said Snedgar, as he stood in the parking lot at the Glen Burnie MVA offices.

He's waiting to hear the reaction of customers who ordered customized plates, who may not have known that they would come on the commemorative design.

But regardless how you feel about the design, there may be at least one side benefit.

"I got a new tag and the rest of my neighbors don't," Willie Jenkins said.

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