Fans remember the 34th Anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley with the annual Candlelight Vigil at Graceland

34 years ago today, August 16, 1977, I was watching tv and they told me Elvis Presley died. I ran to tell my mom who initially did not believe me. I was 4. It is hard to believe that after all these years people know exactly what they were doing when they heard Elvis had died, and it is even harder to believe that tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to Memphis every August to honor Elvis Presley with a candlelight vigil at Graceland.

Elvis Presley Candlelight Vigil at Graceland 8.15.11

I arrived at Graceland just after 6pm because that’s when you can park for free and just before they shut down the road. I took my chair and cooler and secured a nice spot in the median on Elvis Presley Boulevard in front of the gates of Graceland. It was a beautiful night – cool for Memphis in August. It was great to be sitting in front of Graceland listening to Elvis music with people who love Elvis as much as I do. I saw my friends Caroline, Kimberly, Rhonda, Lisa and Marr,  folks from the Elvis world Jack Soden and Ernst Jorgensen and popular Memphians Jack Oblivian and Kerry Crawford.

line for the vigil at 6:30pm

Jack Soden mingling with the fans

sunset over Elvis Presley Boulevard

At 8:30, the opening ceremony began with a note from Lisa Marie Presley saying that she and Priscilla and the rest of the family would be in Memphis next year to celebrate the 35th anniversary. Then everyone lit their candles and sang along with Elvis’ If I Can Dream– “there must be lights burning brighter somewhere…out there in the dark there’s a beckoning candle.”

and the candlelight vigil begins

‘there’s a beckoning candle’

After the opening ceremony, I watched the first people in line pass through the gates and make their way up the driveway to the meditation garden to Elvis’ grave. I walked around a bit admiring everyone’s Elvis sidewalk art and sat back in my chair for a few hours enjoying the night.

elvis vigil sidewalk art

even dogs love elvis

At 11pm, I got in line to make my way up the driveway. I passed through the gates of Graceland at 11:15 and was at the Meditation Garden by 1am.

lining up for the vigil at 11pm

34th anniversary candle

passing through the gates of Graceland at 11:15pm

lighting my candle

meditation garden at 1am

we miss you Elvis

Graceland 8.16.11

Please watch my video of the Elvis Presley Candlelight Vigil on 8.15.11


1 Comment on Fans remember the 34th Anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley with the annual Candlelight Vigil at Graceland

  1. Wow Deena, thanks for this. Its one of the places in the world, I always say I’m going to and have yet to do it. I want to take my Mom there too. Hopefully next year will be the year. I think it may have to be. Thanks so much for posting all of this. I honestly don’t know if I would hold up very well….it has to be so sad and emotional, and I already know I’ll be a blubbering mess! Elvis was my earliest exposure to music. My Mother was a huge fan, so I knew the name Elvis quite young! I too was sitting in our kitchen watching a small black and white tv before dinner. I just turned 7 years old, and its probably one of my clearest memories at age 7…I’ll never forget the look on my Mom’s face and the tears that started right after. Thank God for Elvis….he was the true beginning. Without him….no Beatles, no Stones, no U2…..or at least the way we know them today.
    Again, thanks for showing us your day…..God Bless Elvis.


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