Elvis Ex­press: Fans of ‘The King’ cel­e­brate his birth­day at out­back fest

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

SYD­NEY — Elvis Pres­ley may have “left the build­ing” four decades ago, but his spirit was alive and well at Syd­ney’s main sta­tion on Thursday, as hun­dreds of fans boarded trains to an out­back fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing their idol.

Dressed in col­or­ful se­quined jump­suits, blue suede shoes and hav­ing used co­pi­ous amounts of hair spray, look-alikes sang and danced to hits belted out by trib­ute artists.

The party at­mos­phere was a fit­ting trib­ute to the cultural and mu­si­cal legacy of “The King”, whose ap­peal has spanned decades and gen­er­a­tions, and reached far be­yond his Amer­i­can roots.

The rev­el­ers at Cen­tral sta­tion were board­ing the “Elvis Ex­press” and “Blue Suede Ex­press”, two trains put on to take them to the small out­back town of Parkes, 300 kilo­me­ters west of Syd­ney.

“He was just a gor­geous guy and I just loved all the mu­sic and his love songs,” said Lynette Mar, who was set to board the 1950s-era diesel “Blue Suede Ex­press” to cel­e­brate her 60th birth­day with friends in Parkes. “It’s just great dance mu­sic.” Each year, Parkes — whose ra­dio tele­scope played a piv­otal role in bring­ing Neil Arm­strong’s 1969 moon land­ing to the world — trans­forms into a haven for Elvis en­thu­si­asts when it hosts a five­day trib­ute fes­ti­val.

First held in 1993 to co­in­cide with the singer’s Jan 8 birth­day, the Elvis Fes­ti­val has placed the min­ing town on the tourist map and earned it the moniker “Elvis Cap­i­tal of Aus­tralia”.

Reg­u­lar at­tendee Jenny Dollin — who wore a plas­tic cap shaped like Elvis’ pom­padour hair­style, a white tu­nic top and bell-bot­toms — said she loved the en­ergy and ex­cite­ment of the fes­ti­val.

“I go to Parkes be­cause it’s so much fun. We have a lovely time, I love the Elvises,” Dollin said.

More than 25,000 vis­i­tors are ex­pected to de­scend on Parkes to take part in the fes­tiv­i­ties, more than twice the pop­u­la­tion of the town.

“The peo­ple at Parkes are so friendly,” Dollin said. “Ev­ery­one on the train is very friendly and it’s just a re­ally good time.”

PETER PARKS / AFP

Elvis fans ar­rive at Cen­tral sta­tion be­fore board­ing a train to The Parkes Elvis Fes­ti­val, in Syd­ney, on Thursday.

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