Florida chooses design for quarter

The time has come for Florida to put its best backside forward.

In 2004, it will be the Sunshine State’s turn to have its design for the tail side of the quarter minted. Florida’s quarter is part of a federal plan to picture a design from each state on the back of the quarter at a rate of five states a year for 10 years.

Gov. Jeb Bush decided that he wanted Florida voters to choose the coin’s design. Bush chose the five finalists, and the state government set up a link at through which people can vote.

Surprisingly to some, Mickey Mouse is nowhere to be found on any of the five finalist. Neither is the orange, which has been the symbol on Florida state vehicular license plates for years.

Two of the designs, on the other hand, pay homage to Florida’s role in the space program. The first of the designs features the space shuttle alone with the state’s outline in the background with the words “America’s spaceport.”

The second is obviously meant as a link between Florida’s past and future. Titled “Gateway to Discovery,” it features a landing space shuttle and a colonial-era wooden ship.

Two other designs honor Florida’s vast natural beauty. One, inscribed with “The Everglades,” shows a bird walking through the swamp. The other, with the words “Fishing Capital of the World,” pictures a sailfish.

The final design honors St. Augustine, the “Oldest United States City.” On it is an image of the Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish fort built between 1672-1695 that guards St. Augustine.

The minting will occur in Florida’s 159th year as a state. More than 180,000 people have voted so far on the design. Voting will end on March 5.