Thousands gather for rain-swept Elvis vigil. Some 25,000 fans gather in a candlelight procession at Graceland to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the King's death

By Gary Susman
Updated August 01, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Elvis fans proved they weren’t fair-weather friends, gathering by the tens of thousands in the rain Thursday night for a candlelight vigil at Graceland, marking the 25th anniversary of the King’s death. ”If this was a test, we passed,” organizer Todd Morgan told Reuters. ”We all love Elvis, rain or shine.” Organizers estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 mourners paraded past Elvis’ grave (the Associated Press sized the crowd at just 7,000) on the grounds of his Memphis mansion, bearing candles, flowers, teddy bears, and other mementos.

The event was the culmination of Elvis Week, with Friday marking 25 years to the day since Elvis Presley died at age 42 at his home. The vigil was broadcast over the Internet. It followed a week of concerts, dances, dinners, and academic seminars that drew a total of 75,000 people, according to Reuters. ”My friend said Elvis wasn’t going to let it rain,” said mourner Betty Skinner, who had seen Presley in concert decades ago. ”I guess he’s crying for us.”

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