By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – In four days, the public will get its first glimpse of the newly expanded attractions at the Elvis Presley Birthplace.
The expansion will be unveiled Thursday as part of the city’s annual Elvis Fan Appreciation Day, which draws hundreds of visitors.
Crews were scurrying around Friday installing phones and freshening up paint on walls, benches and railings.
“Literally, they’ve got to work all weekend to be anywhere close to ready,” said Dick Guyton, executive director of the birthplace.
Guyton and the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation broke ground on the $4.3 million expansion in April 2011. The first phase of the project doubled the parking lot, added a 120-seat theater, created a 75-seat amphitheater, expanded the gift shop and created picnic areas and exhibit space.
On Friday, the new patio already had been landscaped and mulched. Tables and chairs will be added so visitors can eat outside.
“This is really going to be a showplace,” Guyton said.
Inside, some of crushed purple velvet drapes had been hung in the theater. The theater marquee had been installed, the new exhibit boxes were finished and TVs had been mounted in the new bathrooms.
“We’re already booking parties for this center,” Guyton said.
The first event is Tuesday. It’s a private, invite-only party for people who donated money to the project. The public is invited to view the expansion after the ribbon-cutting at 10:45 a.m. Thursday. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids.
“We just want the city to be proud of this, to use it and to invite their friends,” Guyton said.