MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Elvis Presley fans from around the world made their annual pilgrimage to Graceland on Thursday to pay their respects to the rock n’ roll icon with a solemn candlelight vigil on the 36th anniversary of his death.
Thousands of Presley fans carried lit candles as they walked silently through the Mediation Garden at Graceland, Presley’s longtime Memphis home. The garden is the location of Presley’s grave as well as his parents’ and grandmother’s.
The vigil is the highlight of Elvis Week,the annualk weeklong celebration of his life and career. Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, of a heart attack after battling prescription drug abuse.
Police estimated 35,000 people would attend the vigil.
Last year, an estimated 75,000 people descended on Graceland for the event.
Christine Jeffords made her fifth trip to Graceland with her husband Jon and three other members of a fan club called the Elvis Midwest Mafia, whose members are from Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. They wore red T-shirts with Presley’s image emblazoned on a king of hearts playing card on the front.
"Where else can you go where you meet people from year to year who have the same passion?" said Christine Jeffords, 52, a pre-school teacher from Hartford, Wis.