Elvis Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, and a celebration to pay tribute to the late icon is being planned at his home, Graceland, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The weeklong celebration will continue with online and in-person events, during Elvis Week, which is scheduled for Aug. 8-16 in Memphis, Tennessee. This year's Elvis Week will be "significantly modified" and void of any potential high-risk activity including live performances, live appearances, group parties or meals, autograph signings and meet & greets.
"It was our hope that we could safely host a full and robust Elvis Week, with minor changes to the planned schedule," Graceland shared on its website. "But, as the COVID pandemic continues to evolve and health officials learn more about high-risk activities, we must evolve with them. There is no greater priority than the health and safety of our guests and employees." The modified Elvis Week will include "a series of daily screening events between August 8-16 that fully comply with recommended government protocols" that include panels featuring those who knew Presley, interviews with Presley tribute artists, new content pieces from the Graceland Archives, specially edited concert shows and Presley films.
The week will conclude with an in-person Candelight Vigil at Graceland on Aug. 15, and this year, fans will have to make reservations ahead of time, stand six feet apart and follow other safety guidelines to attend. The official schedule for this year's Elvis Week will be announced soon. The Virtual Elvis Week will take place in a closed Facebook group which will include a mix of past Elvis Week concerts and panels, new interviews with bandmates, co-stars and friends, new behind-the-scenes Graceland content, a look back at previous Candlelight Vigils, Elvis tribute artists, and a livestream view of the Candlelight Vigil.
Graceland reopened in late May after closing due to the pandemic, using social distancing measures that resulted in smaller touring groups than normal. There were also less visitors than normal, with 250 people arriving upon reopening versus the three to four thousand that would normally visit during a typical day in May. "People need to get the economy started again, and we're glad to play a part in that," Debbie Miller, chief marketing officer at Graceland, said at the time, via Commercial Appeal. "We know we're a big tourist driver for Memphis, and we think a lot of people will come here when they hear Graceland is open again."