This lighthouse has wheels. The iconic image of South County’s Plum Beach Lighthouse travels the state

and everywhere else on automobile license plates.

The specialty license plate recently caught the eye of license plate collectors and placed second in their

40th annual competition.

The Automobile License Plate Collectors Association (ALPCA) chose the lighthouse specialty plate right

behind New Mexico’s centennial celebration plate. Plates are nominated and voted on by members of the

organization. The criteria are legibility and attractiveness.

“We didn’t even know we’d been nominated,” said David Zapatka, president of Friends of Plum Beach

Lighthouse, about the competition. “We learned about the nomination after the voting ended in February.

Then on April 1, Gus Oliver (ALPCA president) called me to let me know we were first runner up.”

First place was awarded to New Mexico for its centennial celebration plate.

The PBL Plate is sold by the Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse as a fund raiser to establish a maintenance

account for the historic structure located beneath the Jamestown Bridge in North Kingstown. The plates are

sold for $41.50, and the Friends receive $20. Unlike other RI state specialty plates, the PBL Plate is a

one-time charge and carries no additional fees upon registration renewal.

The South County Tourism Council is delighted that a South County landmark is featured on a RI license


“Our lighthouses are the jewels in the crown of the South County coastline,” explained Myrna George,

president and CEO of SCTC. “To have the image of a lighthouse on a license plate signifies their

importance in this state.”

The plate is truly a South County product, starting with the original design by the Friends of Plum Beach

Lighthouse. It is based on a fine ink drawing by Bruce Martin, was colored by RI School of Design student

Cory Zapatka, compiled by member Catherine Chapin, directed by David Zapatka, and professionally

completed by East Greenwich graphic designer Dana Gee.

“The coloring is what draws people to it,” Zapatka said about the plate. The background hues of pink and

purple match those of a summer sunset, he noted.

About 3,650 of the license plates have been sold since July 201, raising more than $72,000 for the

repainting and a maintenance fund.

“You can draw a bulls-eye around the lighthouse” to find where most of the license plate holders live,

Zapatka said. The circle is getting wider, and there are PBL plate holders in every town in Rhode Island

except Block Island, he added.