Excited Elvis impersonators sang as one at Central Station on Thursday morning, singing at the top of their lungs as they danced their way through the station for what is being described as the “Southern hemisphere’s biggest and best tribute to the King”.
And making its debut on Thursday morning was this year’s new train service, the Blue Suede Express, accompanied by the eye-catching Elvis Express train as it made its merry way to the annual Parkes Elvis Festival.
The two trains departed at about 9.30am on the seven-hour, 365km trip.
Brody Finlay checks his appearance in the window reflection before boarding the train to Parkes for the Elvis Festival. Photo: Kate Geraghty
“I’ve been an Elvis fan for many years now and it grows on you when you attend Parkes Elvis Festivals,” said Parkes Mayor Ken Keith, dressed in a re-creation of Presley’s blue pinwheel suit.
Since its inception 26 years ago, the five-day event attracts more than 25,000 die-hard Elvis Presley fanatics, promising a “whole lot of non-stop entertainment” as they celebrate this year’s festival theme: Elvis’ famous ’68 Comeback Special.
This 50-year musical milestone marked Presley’s television appearance in a rare “unplugged styled-performance that re-launched his comeback into music”.
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According to one of the festival’s youngest impersonators, Botany resident Brody Finlay, this will be his “first Elvis train experience” ever.
“When I was three years old I got handed the movie King Creole and I never turned back from there,” said the now 21-year-old.
For Edmund Koh, travelling all the way from Singapore was worth it.
“For me, Elvis is always alive,” he said.
Tourism Minister Adam Marshall said more than 25,000 revellers are expected to pack the rural town, but there is also the money, honey, with a forecast $14 million pumped into the local economy.
“It’s the largest celebration of the King globally and it’s right here in NSW,” he said.
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