MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Dave Reid, also known as Santa, was baffled when the license plate he'd displayed on his SUV for six years was suddenly deemed offensive when he tried to renew it this year.
The tag read "HO HO" and was on a specialty wildlife plate featuring a deer. The man who lives Christmas 365 days a year said it appealed to younger children who know him as "HO HO."
"I have a 1999 4Runner that across the back glass says 'My other ride is a sleigh' with a wildlife license plate that says HO HO," Reid explained. "How offensive is that? People drive by me on the interstate so everyone can wave and take a picture. Who is offended by that? It's ridiculous."
The censored Santa was forced to take a standard tag home from the probate office that day, but he couldn't let the issue go.
"I went on the computer where you can reserve your tags," Reid explained. "I tried several variations. When you type H-O it locks up. I typed in UA, like the University of Alabama, space H-O-E, and it took it! Essentially, I could be driving around a license plate that says UA HOE, but I can't have a license plate that says HO HO."
[WEB EXTRA: Tag, Not It: Alabama's rejected license plates]
While the issue hasn't stifled Reid's spirit, he feels it's infringed on his freedom of speech.
"When you live with the spirit of Christmas year round, when you project that spirit to the children, where ever you meet them, whenever you meet them, it's a slap in the face when a government entity says that's offensive," Reid said. "How far do we go with that? It's really crazy."
Reid inquired about his tag but never got an answer. That's when the man most children turn to for Christmas miracles reached out for a little help of his own.
WSFA 12 News contacted the Alabama Department of Revenue but never received a formal response.
However, Santa received a call late on Monday stating he could come pick up a temporary "Ho Ho" tag on Tuesday and would receive his regular one in 10 to 12 days.
Despite not getting the permanent tag before Christmas, Santa said he was thrilled with the outcome.