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Elvis fans flock to Graceland for anniversary

August 16, 2011 12:53:18 AM PDT
Thousands of devoted Elvis Presley fans turned out once again to mark the anniversary of the king's death at Graceland, Presley's home in Memphis.

Even 34 years after his death, many say Elvis remains alive in the hearts of his diehard fans. Flower arrangements and heart-shaped wreaths decorated the burial site as "If I Can Dream" and other songs played softly in the background.

The anniversary of the death is marked by an "Elvis Week" in Memphis. The vigil is the main draw of "Elvis Week," and some waited hours outside the stately mansion for the procession to start.

Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977.

Visitors came from Japan, England, Germany and other countries. Some wore full Elvis outfits, others just his trademark sunglasses or sideburns.

Many still remember where they were when they found out the singer was dead.

Debbie Moller says she was seated on her couch when her sister called that August day in 1977 at the mansion. She didn't believe her sister at first, so she turned on the radio.

"I was bawling non-stop," said Moller, who makes Elvis T-shirts and is now attending her 15th vigil.

Like many who make the walk up the hill and see the Elvis gravesite and those of his parents, Moller expected to get emotional.

"I cry," said Moller, of Colorado Springs, Colo. "The songs they play make you think back to what you were doing they day he died."

The annual vigil began when some Elvis fans traveled to Graceland the year their idol died. It grew into an organized event in 1982.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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