Once again I am interrupting the chronology of my Yellowstone Virtual Roadtrip posts because today I went to Graceland to attend the Elvis Presley Cake-Cutting Ceremony for his 85th birthday!
Why? I don’t really know. Elvis wasn’t a big part of my life like he was for a lot of people. What happened was I accidentally woke up crazy early for a Saturday morning and was like: why not?
It’s a little odd to me that they throw birthday parties postmortem, but I suppose it’s sweet that people take such joy in honoring the legacy he left on the music industry and on Memphis.
So here’s what it was like:
I was actually really excited to see what this was all about, because despite having lived in Memphis for the last five years, I’ve actually never been to Graceland.
Most Memphians haven’t been for the sole reason that it’s really expensive. But today you can get onto the grounds for free!
Since I got there crazy early, I was able to park on the shoulder right next to the gate which was so nice, love that they have that.
Waiting for the event
For the first half hour, We were all stuck outside the music-note clad gate to the mansion grounds. They let people write on the walls surrounding the grounds which is very sweet, especially because I learned that Graceland is basically a music pilgrimage site, and this creates an intimate experience for each visitor.
It was also fun to see all the Christmas decorations in the front yard, along with the sun rising over the mansion.
I also really liked talking with the other attendees. Turn out, Elvis has dedicated friends all around the world, and I met the loveliest group from Southeast England. As more people showed up, I gained a better idea of what an impact Elvis had on the Silent Generation and Baby Boomer’s lives. Lots of people were decked out head to toe in Elvis gear, and some were even dressed as him!
Waiting some more, but inside the gate
Finally, they opened the gate!
While waiting here, we got to look around a little bit at Elvis’s pool and the family’s gravestones. That’s all you can really see from the outside. The house itself looks really nice too.
At this point, my feet were starting to go numb because it’s like 19 degrees outside, but we persisted.
Waiting even more, but in front of the pavilion
A half hour before it was set to begin, we were allowed to gather ’round the stage in anticipation of the ceremony. I was happy to get a pretty good view even though it was from behind the stage.
The main event
Once the whole shebang started, they had a couple of city-government people giving speeches about Elvis, Memphis, and Elvis’s adventures in Memphis. Then Priscilla Presley gave a speech. She talked about Elvis’s life at Graceland, and he sounds like a real upstanding guy- I certainly can’t think of any celebrities who would join the army midway through their performing careers.
What was especially sweet, though, was to see the entourage at the front of the stage nearly in tears, yelling “We love you!” all the way. Elvis fans are really something.
Then, Priscilla cut the cake. Because it was cold as hell, the cake partially froze, and so she told us all to go to the diner for cake instead. That was fine by me, after a short and sweet 15 minutes, the ceremony was over an I was ready to be warm and eat cake.
The cake mystery
When we all made our merry little way across the street, they were indeed serving cake, but something smelled fishy to me…
Now I should preface: free cake is always nice, but it wasn’t the same type of cake as the huge, fancy cake they cut on the stage. Not even close. The cake at the ceremony was clearly made by a professional, while the slices we got were pretty much supermarket sheetcake. Which is fine! And it was very tasty. But I do wanna know what they do with all that fancy cake. I’m telling you, it was as big as me! Where does it all go?
And that was the ceremony! It was so nice to have my curiosity satiated, and to finally go to Graceland for free.
There were more things you could do, like take a picture with the cake and meet the living Presleys, but those costed like a billion dollars and there’s no way I was gonna shell that out.
Also, Elvis seems like a really cool guy. So important to so many, even 40 years after his death.