Christine Lewis wrapped herself in the flag – an Elvis flag – to celebrate what would have been the king of rock ‘n’ roll’s 68th birthday.
The 52-year-old from Somerset, England, was among 600 to 700 fans gathered Wednesday on the front lawn of Graceland, Elvis Presley’s last home, to cut a cake and sing “Happy Birthday.” Celebrants stood in line up to 90 minutes to get onto the grounds for the party.
“I could imagine him being here. I cried so much,” Lewis said.
For the occasion, she wrapped herself in a flag with red and blue stripes and white stars. Inside the largest star, in the center of the flag, was an image of Presley.
Lewis and several traveling companions roomed for a weeklong visit at the Heartbreak Hotel, which is across the street from Graceland and part of the Elvis estate’s sprawling layout of gift shops and museums.
“It’s all been so wonderful. Very moving,” she said.
Doreen Jones, 67, and husband, Trevor, 66, traveled from Southport, England. As is common for fans from abroad, they also took side trips to Tupelo, Miss., the small town where Presley was born, and to Nashville.
It was Mrs. Jones’ first visit to Graceland, which was decorated by Presley with almost as much flash as one of his bespangled jumpsuits.
“It was absolutely marvelous, the atmosphere and the colors,” she said.
For the birthday, Graceland managers cut a blue-and-white cake before a display of framed gold and platinum awards for “Elvis: 30 No. 1 Hits,” an album released last year on the 25th anniversary of the singer’s death.
The album has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide and the awards were from 27 countries, including the United States.
The anniversary of Presley’s birth on Jan. 8, 1935, draws several hundred fans each year, and this year’s crowd was somewhat larger. By contrast, a weeklong commemoration of the anniversary of his Aug. 16, 1977, death attracts 20,000 or more.
Presley died at 42 of heart disease and drug abuse.