Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Going to Graceland During Elvis Week

Ever since I was a teenager I have been visiting Memphis during the summertime and each year I unfortunately had to leave the week before Something Very Big and Very Important. What a travesty! Now that Memphis is my home, I could finally see the Very Big and Very Important Thing: a tribute to The King. No, not BB and not Jerry Lawler. I mean THE King…Elvis!

During Elvis Week fans and the curious alike come to Memphis from all around the world to remember the life of Elvis Presley. Memphis gets noticeably busier during this time, and you can hear many different accents and languages throughout the city due to an increase in tourists. If you are walking around the downtown area you will more than likely see several Elvis impersonators, I know I did!

On the anniversary of Elvis’ passing, August 15th, the portion of Elvis Presley Boulevard in front of Graceland is closed off and people set up memorials and shrines in remembrance of their favorite musician. My brother and I attended this years’ ceremony which was also the 40th anniversary. Beforehand, we loaded up on $.50 oysters at another highly recommended Memphis establishment, Mortimer’s.  Afterwards, we picked up a 12 pack of beer from a gas station and responsibly Ubered our way to Graceland.

 

I have been to Graceland before so we did not go inside, we were there to people watch as well as admire the temporary statuettes erected for Elvis. Graceland is very popular on any given day, and rightfully so, but I was not prepared for the sea of people attending the vigil. As you can see in the pictures, the crowd is endless! I haven’t seen this many people gathered in one place since I attended the Women’s March in Boston. It was incredibly uplifting to see so many people gathered at the vigil for a genuinely good reason and share their passion with one another.  I also couldn’t believe the amount of shrines created in the street.

I met a nice woman from Indiana named Sharon who had attended the vigil for the last 5 years. Amazingly, two memorials down from her was another Elvis fan named Sharon! So many Sharons. I also met two Elvis impersonators who I think were made slightly uncomfortable when I told them (in my best Elvis voice [which isn’t very good]) to “hold daddy tight.”

What? I thought it would lighten the mood…

My big bub and I ended up staying for about three hours and talking with folks about their passion for Elvis and what brings them back year after year. Some attend for the sense of community and others to pay tribute to a man who brings joy to their life day after day. I for one felt a strong sense of civic pride and was honored to live somewhere that has the ability to attract so many people from around the world. I look forward to discovering more of Memphis’ history and culture.

What else am I up to? Keep up with my Year One adventures here.

What is Year One? Go here to read more.

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