Elvis Presley Image Credit: AP

Every year, hundreds of fans gather at Graceland to pay tribute to late rock star Elvis Presley on the anniversary of his death. But, this year’s gathering was historic for several reasons — including the fact that everyone had to wear a mask.

The candlelit vigil marking Presley’s 43rd death anniversary on August 15 was ticketed — and only those with prior reservations or authorised passes could attend the heavily secured event.

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Though the tickets were free, they were required in order to control numbers and successfully pull off a ‘socially distanced’ vigil, limiting the number of attendees to just over 700.

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Fans in masks at the vigil.

Why do fans go to Graceland?

The King of Rock and Roll died on August 16, 1977 at the age of 42 in the bathroom of his Memphis mansion, Graceland.

Ever since, fans have a standing date with each other on August 15 every year, staying until the morning hours of August 16, to mourn the fallen artist. The tradition began after Presley’s shocking death in the late ‘70s, when fans flocked to the famous mansion to pay their respects.

Life before COVID-19: Thousands of Elvis fans old and new light their candles during the annual Elvis Week vigil in front of Graceland to honor the 42nd anniversary of the King of Rock-n-Roll's death, in 2019. A crowd of thousands gathered at the gates for a procession to Elvis Presley's grave on the grounds of the manor. Image Credit: AP

Back then, however, mourners didn’t have to cover their faces or keep a safe distance from each other.

This year, according to an on-the-ground report in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Graceland officials put together strict guidelines.

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A view of this year's vigil.

Only 720 visitors were allowed to attend and the vigil was limited to three hours, from 9pm until midnight. This didn’t prevent fans of all ages, ranging from their early teens to their 70s (and possibly younger and older), from attending.

In fact, a 15-year-old by the name of Chris Wilson said he had spent 12 hours waiting outside of Graceland for his 11.15pm admission, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal.