Thousands mark Elvis anniversary with vigil at Graceland

Elvis Presley fans from around the world made their annual pilgrimage to Graceland yesterday to pay their respects to the rock and roll icon with a candlelight vigil on the 36th anniversary of his death.

Thousands mark Elvis anniversary with vigil at Graceland

Thousands of people carried candles as they walked slowly and silently through the Mediation Garden at Graceland, Presley’s long-time Memphis home. The garden is the location of his grave and the spot where his mother, father, and grandmother are buried.

Each year, fans of Presley’s music and films come to the Tennessee town for Elvis Week, the celebration of his life and career. Presley died on Aug 16, 1977. The vigil is the highlight of Elvis Week, which this year featured a listening party at Stax Records for the recent release of the three-CD box set Elvis At Stax.

Performances by Presley tribute artists and a screening of the Aloha From Hawaii television programme from Jan 1973 are other featured events of the week-long reunion, which wraps up today.

Last year, an estimated 75,000 people descended on Graceland for the event. The star’s ex-wife Priscilla Presley and his daughter Lisa Marie Presley spoke at last year’s event, the first time they appeared together at the vigil since it began.

The vigil started as an informal gathering the year after his death. It has blossomed into an international affair and a tribute to Presley’s worldwide popularity, hosting fans from England, Australia, Brazil, and Japan and other foreign countries.

Miguel Salinas Caceres, 53, came with other members of a fan club whose members are from Chile. Making his first visit to Graceland, he recalled making scrapbooks of newspaper article clippings about Presley when he was a teenager.

“For a person who is an Elvis fan and has the chance to come to the place he lived, it’s emotional for me.

“It’s hard to believe that I’m here on the street where he walked, the street corners where he stood, the restaurants where he ate.”

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