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The King, wherever he is, still rocks fans

September 11, 2005|By PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN

Raising a child to be an Elvis Presley fan takes more patience than it does work, said Jennifer Siegmyer, a mother of four.

In only about a year's time, Siegmyer, of Mt. Savage, Md., had turned her 10-year-old daughter, Alexis Yoak, onto "The King's" music.

The two sat side by side Saturday, awaiting the first of four Elvis tribute artists to take the stage at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center for the fourth annual "Elvis Lives in Hagerstown."

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Siegmyer, 30, a lifelong fan who first tuned in to Elvis at her uncle's urging, said, "At first, they'd say, 'Eww Elvis,' and I said there's never gonna be another star, another singer, in my lifetime that'll measure up to him.

"I think they knew they didn't have a choice."

Siegmyer said she has her theories about whether or not Elvis is alive. He died in 1977, reportedly.

"I don't think he lives in Hagerstown," she said, smiling, as her family members laughed. "I think he's on an island somewhere. Everything got to him and he needed a way out."

Paula Hettenhouser begs to differ.

"Elvis lives at my house," she said.

Hettenhouser had snagged her table, feet from the stage, just 10 minutes after the doors opened Saturday afternoon for the event

The 54-year-old Hagerstown woman has "all of his movies, pictures, plates and dolls." Chris MacDonald, the first Elvis tribute artist to perform Saturday, drew her the most to the event.

Elvis isn't really alive, Hettenhouser later said with some regret.

"He's only alive in the guys," she added, pointing to her MacDonald souvenirs.

Elvis also breathes through his fans. Rick Fary's long, thick black sideburns and high hair are real. He wears it like that daily, sometimes wearing Elvisesque sunglasses for added effect.

Fary, 44, of Fairfax, Va., said he likes the response he gets from drivers when he cruises in his Chevrolet Suburban, which has license plates that say, 2CELVIS.

Aside from MacDonald, tribute artists David Lee, Shawn Klush and Jamie Aaron Kelley performed. The Williamsport High School Sophisti'Cats show choir performed "Jailhouse Rock" before MacDonald took the smoke-filled stage, wearing a gold jacket and bearing gyrating hips.

MacDonald passed out teddy bears to throngs of women who walked up to the stage while he sang "Teddy Bear." Even some of the Sophisti'Cats' girls, dressed in black and white jailhouse dresses, seemed to transgress to Elvis' time, running to the stage and squealing, returning to their table excitedly and clutching their souvenirs from "The King."

Linda Irvin-Craig, co-chair of the event, said it was decided to hold "Elvis Lives in Hagerstown" indoors this year to have an added Las Vegas effect. It had been a street festival in years past.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Barbara Ingram School for the Performing Arts, which is proposed to open in downtown Hagerstown sometime in the next couple of years.

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