JACKSON – About 300 of Elvis Presley’s favorite sandwiches were served Tuesday at the state Capitol in honor of what would have been the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s 75th birthday.
“I think it was the first experienced by everybody who had one,” said Donna Kaye Randle of Tupelo, a member of the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation. “They said they had peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but never had one fried.”
Dennis Miller, a Jackson attorney who lobbies at the Capitol, said, “I thought it was fantastic. The closest I had was peanut butter and blueberry. This was heated. The peanut butter oozed out of the bread with bananas.”
The event originally was planned for Friday, the actual birthday, but was postponed because of snow. It was designed not only to honor Tupelo’s best-known native son, but to highlight the possibilities for enhancing the Elvis Presley Birthplace in east Tupelo.
The Lee County legislative delegation, at the request of the foundation, is seeking $4 million in state support for a planned $5.5 million enhancement project.
“I think the Elvis day has been enormously successful,” said Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville. “Everybody has talked about it. Everybody is getting an opportunity to see what we are trying to do.”
The sandwiches were served by Vicki and Jeff Martin of the Corner Cafe in Nettleton. Pepsis and birthday cake also were served.
Henry Dodge of Tupelo, chair of the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation, said the day was a lot of fun, but “obviously, this is an economic development issue for the state of Mississippi.”
Dodge said the foundation board believes improvements to the Presley Birthplace Park and Museum, which already is a major tourist attraction, will make it a a destination where people spend a night and buy two meals.
That, he said, would be an economic boon not only for Tupelo, but for the state.
The primary planned improvements would be a theater connected to the museum and gift shop and a Elvis Childhood trail leading to an amphitheater.
The theater would include a state-of-the-art sound system and screen for various programs. For instance, Elvis Presley movies could be played on the large screen as could recorded interviews of people who grew up with him.
Plus, the theater would be available for other events, such as wedding receptions.
But the plan would call for programs ongoing and scheduled 18 months in advance for the many foreign Presley fans who schedule their trips far in advance.
“We would do anything and everything we can think of to extend the stay in Tupelo,” Dodge said.
While the primary purpose of Tuesday’s event at the Capitol was to get information out about planned improvements at the birthplace, Miller said the day had a practical side for him.
Because of broken water pipes throughout Jackson, many downtown restaurants are closed.
“I kept hearing about the restaurants being closed,” he said. “I thought I was going to have to drive to Ridgeland to eat. The sandwich was perfect.”
Elvis would be proud.
Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal