TUPELO – (AP) For the 13th year in a row, Les Horne of Oxford, England, began Elvis Week in Tupelo at the birthplace of Elvis Presley.
“Every year we come, it has gotten a little better,'' Horne said.
Hundreds of fans from around the world were in Tupelo on Saturday for the 36th Fan Appreciation Day at the Elvis Presley Birthplace Park, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.
This year, for the first time, entertainment and food were in an amphitheater and theater opened on the grounds last August. An evening concert by an Elvis impersonator was moved to the Civic Auditorium because rain threatened.
Elvis week ends with a candlelight vigil at Presley's mansion, Graceland, to mark his death on Aug. 16, 1977. Thousands of people come to Memphis to celebrate The King's life and career.
They include Adela Martinez and Debbie Ponce, who drove 15 hours from Albuquerque, N.M., to Tupelo.
“I've been an Elvis fan since I was 4,'' said Ponce, 49. “Nothing was going to stop me from coming.''
Martinez, who lived in Memphis for years, is paying for both.
“This is perfect,'' Ponce said. “I had a rough year last year. This is so needed. She is fulfilling one of my dreams, my only dream really.''
Joe Makowski, 61, of St. Petersburg, Fla., remembered Presley's stage presence: “He had such charisma and the most dynamic voice I ever heard. Every song, he put so much into it.''
Makowski said he went to 81 performances by Presley between August 1971 and June 1977.
“The fan goes to Graceland,'' said Michael Franta, 47, of Huntington Beach, Calif. “The real fan goes to Tupelo.''