Elvis Week Blog 6 – Candlelight Vigil and Exploring The Guest House at Graceland

BY JON WATERHOUSE

Candlelight Vigil 2018

Remarkable. Phenomenal. Unrivaled. It may sound like hyperbole to the uninitiated, but these and other adjectives only begin to describe Elvis Week’s Candlelight Vigil.

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Fans from around the world – a sweeping representation of races, ages and backgrounds – descend upon Elvis Presley Boulevard for this annual event. Thousands participate in the traditional graveside visit on the eve of the anniversary of Elvis’ death. Just after dusk, a perpetual procession begins at the gates of Graceland and winds its way up the mansion’s driveway to Elvis’ graveside at Meditation Garden. It lasts into the early hours of the next morning.

Last night, 41 years after Elvis Presley’s passing, the tradition continued. SiriusXM Elvis Radio personality DJ Argo served as emcee and began the evening reminding the throng of fans lining the street in front of him they were gathering in the name of love.

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“To everybody at home, we’re spreading that Memphis love as we get ready,” Argo told those watching the Candlelight Vigil Livestream. “There are people here tonight who are carrying a candle for you.”

Members of the Elvis Country fan club followed by addressing the crowd before introducing the 2018 Vigil theme song, Elvis’ “Thinking About You.”

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An apropos tune for sure, as Elvis occupied the collective consciousness. Soon after, everyone paused for a 16-second moment of silence, a reference to August 16, 1977. Remarkably, a hush grew over the massive crowd, only the sound of frogs and insects chirping in the night air.

The Vigil walk began with a group of Japanese fan club members among the first up the driveway. The countless attendees with candles in hand included Elvis Week special guests actor Michael Dante (“Kid Galahad”), host Tom Brown and artist Betty Harper.

I took the trek myself, marveling at the reverence of fellow fans along the way. After the Vigil, I had the opportunity to speak with several participants and get their thoughts on the Candlelight Vigil.

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Janice Peel, Canton, Texas
“Everybody is so in tune with each other, we all get along, and it’s just like coming home. Elvis was so charitable and was always so accommodating to his fans. He never forgot them, and he never forgot where he came from. And we’ve never forgotten him. So being at the Vigil is about paying back.”

Ernie Poublon, Los Angeles, Calif.
“My biggest impression of the Vigil is when you’re amongst Elvis fans, you’re amongst family. To me it’s a very uplifting event that helps keep Elvis Presley’s legacy alive. It’s really the main reason I participate. There’s nothing like being with thousands of Elvis Presley fans. You can walk up to anyone and carry on a conversation like you’ve known them forever. We’re all connected by one common denominator.”

Betty Harper, Nashville, Tenn.
“I think it’s a time to get together with other fans and pay our respects, and to remember what he meant to us and how he changed our lives so much. He certainly changed mine. For me, he was such a vital inspiration to the development of my whole talent as an artist. So to come to the Candlelight Vigil, to be there with everybody, and have that feeling flowing through everyone (is amazing.) It just shows the power of Elvis. We’ll never see anything like it again. Elvis didn’t just entertain, he got into your soul and became a part of everyone’s family.”

If you missed the Vigil, you can watch a replay of the Candlelight Vigil Livestream.


Guest House Fun

Elvis Week 2018 marks another stay for me at the Guest House at Graceland. Ground zero for blogging takes place in my room where an enormous image of Elvis’ gold lamé suit hangs on the wall and “Aloha from Hawaii” plays repeatedly on the TV. The big hunk of Elvisness and the plush confines make it easier for me to meet my deadlines and face the day’s bustle.

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Of course, much more awaits outside my room, and I make a point to explore the Guest House each day. The ornate lobby, the Graceland-inspired first floor staircase, bountiful restaurants, and the relaxing pool and outdoor fire pit are just a handful of what you’ll find on site. Check out some of my more recent discoveries:

Vernon and Gladys’ Suite

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The Guest House has a total of 19 speciality suites, and I began the day with a private tour of Vernon and Gladys’ Suite, one of two found on the resort’s top floor. Room envy quickly set in as I made my way past the serpentine sofa, a definite nod to Elvis’ Palm Springs digs. After a day of hoofing it around the Graceland grounds, you can relax in the chaise lounge next to the window overlooking the pool, belly up to the in-room bar or crash in the plush bedroom. They say after you take a warm shower or bath, steam causes the letters TCB to magically appear on the bathroom mirrors. “What I love best about this room is it has a lot of positive energy and light,” said Fara Marino, a member of the Guest House at Graceland Founders program. “I just love being in this suite with the fabrics, textures and all the other (mid century) touches.”

Fun and Games

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There’s no shortage of resort activities at the Guest House, from weekend morning yoga on the back event lawn to karaoke in E.P.’s Bar & Grill on Wednesday and Friday nights. Grab the August events guide at the lobby information desk for the full schedule. Yesterday I joined fellow fans in Ballroom B for Elvis Bingo, complete with Elvis bingo blotters. Winners shouted “Elvis” instead of “Bingo,” and fortunate players chose from prizes, including Guest House at Graceland bathrobes and other Elvis-related apparel and accessories. Bingo may had wrapped, but I still had that competitive spirit. So I stopped by the Guest House Gift Shop where hotel guests can rent free board games. Unable to decide which game to play, I stuck with a stack.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Station

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Elvis Week blogging means long hours. It’s easy feel to feel like Lucky Jackson’s car after the big race in “Viva Las Vegas.” The fuel gauge teeters toward empty. The Guest House makes late-night revitalization easy with this self-serve sandwich bar located in the lobby hallway just outside of Delta’s Kitchen. Of course, I paired slathers of peanut butter with sliced bananas, an EP favorite. But I had to take it to the next over-the-top level by adding M&M candies, chocolate chips and whipped cream. The station comes to life 10-11 p.m. nightly and takes place year-round.

It’s never too early to start booking your stay for Elvis Week 2019. Guest House room reservations are now available at a special Early Bird rate.


2 Comments

  1. matthew goodrich

    IT RAISED THE TEMPERATURE IN THE OCEANS, IT WAS SO HOT !!

  2. Evelyn L. Martin

    I use to receive emails with the live Birthday events and the celebration of death. I do not receive anymore Since I am unable to be there in person I miss receiving to watch on my computer.

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