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story.lead_photo.caption Elvis Presley sings during a 1973 concert. The 43rd annual Elvis Week will go on as a part live, part virtual celebration in Memphis next month. (AP file photo)

MEMPHIS — Plans for the weeklong celebration of rock 'n' roll icon Elvis Presley on the 43rd anniversary of his death have been shaken up by covid-19, but organizers are forging ahead with a combination of in-person and online events at Graceland next month.

Fans will still be allowed to gather for an in-person vigil at Graceland to cap Elvis Week, scheduled this year for Aug. 8-16 in Memphis. But they'll have to make reservations ahead of time, stand 6 feet apart and follow other virus-related safety guidelines if they want to attend the vigil and walk past Presley's grave.

Presley died on Aug, 16, 1977. Since then, devotees of the late singer and actor have flocked to Graceland, his former home-turned museum, to honor Presley on the anniversary of his death.

Besides the candlelight vigil, some in-person, recorded events will be offered during the week. But other potentially "high-risk" events — live performances, group parties, autograph signings and meet-and-greets — have been eliminated, Graceland said.

Instead, fans will be invited to participate in Elvis Week events in a closed Facebook group that requires a paid ticket to enter. Virtual events will include past Elvis Week concerts and panels, new interviews with bandmates and friends, and a look at previous candlelight vigils, Graceland said.

"As the covid pandemic continues to evolve and health officials learn more about high-risk activities, we must evolve with them," Graceland's news release said. "There is no greater priority than the health and safety of our guests and employees."

A full schedule of events for the week will be released later.


PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Dollywood has lifted a requirement put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic that requires its guests to make reservations before going to the theme park.

The Tennessee park announced the change July 14, saying it's based on positive guest satisfaction scores and reviews about its operating environment.

Dollywood Theme Park and Dollywood's Splash Country Water Park reopened in mid-June. To promote social distancing, season passholders have been required to reserve the date and time they will visit, while general admission guests have bought date-based tickets.

Now, one-day tickets and multi-day tickets are valid for a five-day window after the selected date. Passholder reservations are still required at Splash Country.

Guests are required to wear masks at Dollywood, but not on water attractions at Splash Country or Dollywood and on select roller coasters.


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