JACKSON – This week’s anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, will not go unnoticed at the state Capitol.
The Lee County legislative delegation, with support from the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Elvis Presley Foundation, will be serving Presley’s favorites – Pepsis and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches – at the Capitol on Friday, which is the 75th anniversary of his birth.
“We’re going to celebrate the second most-known name in the world – next to Jesus – our native son in his state Capitol,” said Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville.
Holland hopes the celebration provides momentum for the efforts to secure $4 million in state bonds to help improve and enhance the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum.
The east Tupelo birthplace already has been identified as a top tourist attraction in the state, and many believe that with state help it could become more of a destination stop where people spend multiple days.
Currently, many visitors make it a side trip while going to and from Graceland, Presley’s home in Memphis.
“First of all, I think Elvis is a great Mississippi treasure,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo. “We’re now just beginning to understand that great asset. … On Friday, I think everybody in the Capitol will enjoy peanut butter and banana sandwiches.”
The bond funds for the Presley birthplace improvements have been incorporated into a $29 million bond package being proposed by the House leadership to improve several tourist destinations in the state, such as $2 million for the historic Curlee House in Corinth, funds for a blues museum in Tunica, for the Jimmy Rogers country music museum in Meridian and for civil rights sites throughout the state.
“We believe all this stuff could be open in a year and one-half,” said House Tourism Chair Diane Peranich, D-Pass Christian. “We will have people working in tourism. We’re investing in Mississippi and Mississippians with our culture and our heritage.
“This will create jobs for ordinary Mississippians – local jobs in the restaurants, coffee shops, filling stations.”
Rep. Brian Aldridge, R-Tupelo, said Friday’s Elvis celebration at the Capitol, “will be a great opportunity to show our colleagues about a project in Tupelo,”
Said Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, “the celebration will show what Elvis means to Northeast Mississippi and to the entire state.”
State statistics indicate that between 75,000 and 80,000 people per year visit the birthplace.
Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal