Originally published Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Graceland gears up for Elvis anniversary

Graceland will mark the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death in 2012 with special events — and more visitors than ever.

Scripps Howard News Service

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Despite the frenzied pace of the holiday season, Scott Williams is trying to get as much rest as possible before the hullabaloo commences.

That's because January kicks off a yearlong campaign that will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to Memphis — from across the nation and around the globe — to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.

Williams, vice president of marketing and media for Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), expects to be right in the thick of it.

On average, more than 600,000 visitors flock to Presley's Graceland estate each year, with about 25,000 of those arriving during the week in August commemorating the singer-actor's death, Williams said. The entertainer died at Graceland on Aug. 16, 1977.

Figures for next August could easily swell to four or more times that number, and more fans are likely to visit throughout the year.

To accommodate them, EPE officials will be ready with myriad events showcasing Presley's life and career, beginning at the start of the year with a birthday celebration, a new "Elvis on Tour"exhibit and the fifth annual Elvis cruise. Presley was born Jan. 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Miss.

Then comes the "Elvis: Through His Daughter's Eyes"exhibit, featuring mementos from Lisa Marie Presley that will kick off in February. Next up is "Icon: The Influence of Elvis Presley"exhibit that opens in March.

"About 40 percent of Elvis music is now bought by people from outside the U.S. He's sold more than 1 billion records to date, and that number keeps growing and the Elvis brand is constantly cropping up in some form or fashion across various media platforms throughout the world."

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