Coronavirus alters Elvis Week; candlelight vigil still on

ADRIAN SAINZ

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — ‎Plans for the weeklong celebration of rock ‘n’ roll icon Elvis Presley on the 43rd anniversary of his death have been shaken up by the new coronavirus, but organizers are forging ahead with a combination of in-person and online events at Graceland next month.

Fans will still be allowed to gather for an in-person vigil at Graceland to cap Elvis Week, scheduled this year for Aug. 8-16 in Memphis, Tennessee, where Presley lived. But they’ll have to make reservations ahead of time, stand 6 feet (2 meters) apart and follow other virus-related safety guidelines if they want to attend the vigil and walk past Presley's grave.

Presley died on Aug, 16, 1977. Since then, devotees of the late singer and actor have flocked to Graceland, his former home-turned museum, to honor Presley on the anniversary of his death.

Besides the candlelight vigil, some in-person, prerecorded events will be offered during the week. But other potentially “high-risk” events — live performances, group parties, autograph signings and meet-and-greets — have been eliminated, Graceland said.

Instead, fans will be invited to participate in Elvis Week events in a closed Facebook group that requires a paid ticket to enter. Virtual events will include past Elvis Week concerts and panels, new interviews with bandmates and friends, and a look at previous candlelight vigils, Graceland said.

“As the COVID pandemic continues to evolve and health officials learn more about high-risk activities, we must evolve with them,” Graceland’s news release said. "There is no greater priority than the health and safety of our guests and employees.”

A full schedule of events for the week will be released later.

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