Elvis Week 2002: Happy Birthday, Baby

By Aimee EdmondsonJan 8, 2002
We found a good article on Elvis' Birthday celebrations 2002 By Aimee Edmondson from the Commercial Appeal (January 06 2002). Helen Brown didn't think twice when it was time to buy her plane ticket from Great Britain to Memphis for her twice-yearly pilgrimage. Terrorist threat or not, the president of Britain's North Hampton fan club just had to be here for Elvis's birthday week celebrations. "If we stop coming, the terrorists have won," said Brown, 39, making her 21st visit to Memphis. She and about 350 official fan club presidents from across the globe Saturday filled the Memphis Marriott East ballroom for their annual luncheon to celebrate Elvis's birthday. This year's theme is based on the Elvis film Follow That Dream, and the movie's leading lady, Anne Helm, was on hand to toast the King for what would have been his 67th birthday. Roy C. Bennett, who wrote 45 Elvis songs, also attended, as well as several other friends and associates of Elvis. Ira Jones author of Soldier Boy Elvis, was another special guest. Jones was Elvis's platoon sergeant in Germany. But what drew the loudest applause from the crowd was a sneak peek at selected clips from the animated Disney movie, Lilo and Stitch, which features six Elvis songs. The movie comes out this summer, and the fan club presidents were the first group outside the studio to see clips. Patsy Anderson, who organizes fan club activities on behalf of Graceland, also played Elvis's rendition of America the Beautiful, featured on a CD released in October as a fund-raiser for disaster relief efforts stemming from Sept. 11. As of mid-December, she told the crowd, $164,000 had been raised to benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Elvis fan club members worldwide raised an additional $12,000-plus for the Red Cross and presented the check at the luncheon. "Elvis gave so much for charity," Brown said. "We want to continue the work he did." In addition, the luncheon itself was a benefit for Camp Good Grief, which is Baptist Trinity Hospice's bereavement camp for children. Fans the world over are here this week for what would have been the King's 67th birthday Tuesday. The Elvis Fan Club Presidents' luncheon featured video clips, including previews of Lilo and Stitch, a Disney animation coming this summer.

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