The Republicans are coming, and in the spirit of good capitalism they're bringing with them a host of souvenirs and paraphernalia to mark their arrival Jan. 20. The latest available item on the list -- inaugural license plates for your car.
The D.C. Department of Transportation has printed 20,000 of the red, white and blue inaugural tags that motorists in the District and all 50 states can purchase for $25 a set and use on their cars for 90 days in place of their regular tags.
"People in California can put them on their cars, and people in Georgia can, too, if anybody in Georgia would want to," said Robert O. D. Thompson, assistant director of the Transportation Department who heads the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Services.
Thompson said the department will be sending out letters on Monday to all 50 states, asking them to honor the special tags on all registered motor vehicles from now through March 15. The first 300 inaugural tags will go to the Inaugural Committee itself, which made the request, for use by dignitaries, administration officials, and on vehicles in the inauguration parade.
The Inaugural Committee purchased the tags from the Transportation Department at a cost of $41,000. The 20,000 6-by-12-inch license plates, and 75 sample tags numbered "0000," were manufactured by prisoners for the D.C. Department of Corrections.
The license plates will carry five numbers. Purchasers can obtain special personalized tags at a cost of $2.25 extra. Across the bottom of the tags are the words "Presidential Inauguration," and on the left side is a large American flag on a white background. The words "Washington D.C." are written in white on a red strip across the top.
The tags were designed by the Inaugural Committee, Thompson said.
The inaugural tags are a quadrennial feature for presidential swearing-in ceremonies that have become marked by as much paraphernalia as pomp. This year, in addition to the special tags, collectors can commemorate the Ronald Reagan inauguration by purchasing special medallions, coasters, tie-tacks, and tote bags. Also, Virginia fashion designer Frankie Welch has designed a special set of inaugural fashions, including inaugural umbrellas, scarves and neckties, according to an Inaugural Committee spokesperson. CAPTION: Picture, Special automobile tags, good through March 15, cost $25 a set. Above is a sample.