Club offers a license plate fit for ’The King’

Published 9:55 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Elvis Presley always wanted a youth center in his hometown of Tupelo. A new specialty license plate is aimed at reaching that goal — more than 50 years after the rock ’n’ roll icon came up with the idea.

The Tupelo Elvis Presley Fan Club pushed the tag through the Mississippi Legislature last year.

The club needs to collect 300 applications to ensure production of the plates that feature an image of Elvis over a picture of his birth home, and they want to hit that goal by May 10.

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About 120 applications have been gathered so far from supporters who will pay an additional $31 for the tag.

Club president Scott Reese said Elvis held benefit concerts in Tupelo in 1956 and ’57 to raise money for a new youth center, but it was never built.

The club hopes to partner with the city and the Tupelo Aquatic Club and use proceeds from the plate to build a center that would include a pool and dressing rooms, Reese said Tuesday.

“That was his wishes: To take care of the east side of town where he grew up,” said Scott Reese.

Presley moved to Memphis when he was 13, but never forgot where he grew up.

The Tupelo fan club was created in 1956 but was dormant for years before organizers restarted it. It has about 150 active members in the Tupelo area in northeast Mississippi, plus those who sign up while passing through for tours of Elvis’ birthplace.

Only Mississippi residents will be able to buy the tags, however. Club member Wilma White came up with the idea for the tag in 2007 and did much of the work in getting it approved, Reese said.

First, the club had to persuade the Legislature to approve the specialty plate, one of dozens available in Mississippi. After a design was completed by Tupelo’s Vic Armstrong, Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc. had to sign off on it and approval by the Mississippi State Tax Commission is pending.

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