By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Elvis Presley wowed fans in Fairpark on Thursday night, just like he did at his homecoming concerts more than 50 years earlier.
“I touched him,” said Ann Day, an Elvis fan from England.
“I looked up at him, and his eyes looked right into mine,” said Day’s friend, Christine Clarke, also from the UK.
Day and Clarke, along with three other friends, didn’t see a living, breathing King of Rock ’n’ Roll, but instead a larger-than-life bronze statue of Elvis that was unveiled during the Down on Main concert. The five eagerly waited at the red ropes around the statue for more than two hours before the black cloth was pulled down to lay eyes on the statue.
“It was worth coming from England to see,” said Sharon O’Brien, a friend of Day’s and Clarke’s.
Fans flocked to the statue for a while after its unveiling, snapping pictures, bowing down and touching Elvis’ outstretched hand. The fans also enjoyed music by Mississippi natives Eden Brent and Marty Stuart.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr., U.S. Rep. Steve Holland, a representative from Congressman Alan Nunnelee’s office and Roy Turner, a documentary filmmaker with the Tupelo Elvis Presley Fan Club, all welcomed fans from down the road and across the pond to the statue’s debut.
“We are all standing on hallowed ground,” Reed said.
Elvis tribute artist Tyler Hunter has been in town this week for “Elvis boot camp,” as he called it, getting ready to compete in the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition in Memphis next week. He’ll represent Tupelo, and he said seeing the statue and visiting the birthplace will give him an edge in the competition.
“I don’t think there’s a better place to be than Tupelo right before Elvis Presley week,” he said. “It feels really good here. They treat you the way they’d treat Elvis or anybody else.”