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Thousands honor Elvis Presley at Graceland vigil

August 16, 2013

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) — Elvis Presley fans from around the world made their annual pilgrimage to Graceland to pay their respects to the rock n’ roll icon with a solemn candlelight vigil on the 36th anniversary of his death.

Thousands of Presley fans on Thursday walked slowly and silently through the Mediation Garden at Graceland, Presley’s longtime Memphis home. The garden is the location of Presley’s grave.

Each year, fans of Presley’s music and movies come to Memphis for Elvis Week, the celebration of his life and career. Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, of a heart attack after battling prescription drug abuse.

Police estimated 35,000 people would attend the vigil. Last year, an estimated 75,000 people attended. Elvis’ 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 become an international affair, with fans from Australia, Brazil, England, Japan and elsewhere.

Miguel Salinas Caceres, 53, came with other members of a fan club from Chile. Salinas Caceres recalled making scrapbooks of newspaper article clippings about Presley when he was a teen because he could not afford a record player. He said his family used to pay a neighbor who owned a television so that they could watch Presley movies.

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

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