During the week that ends Aug. 16, a woman from California will order a $325 floral arrangement in the shape of a hound dog from Coughlin's Florist in Memphis and place it on Elvis Presley's grave.
She will cry the entire time she is there.
The corridors and pool decks at the Days Inn, the Quality Inn and the Ramada Inn, where the rooms have been booked for months, will echo with the greetings of Elvis fans who haven't seen each other since this time last year.
No one will get any sleep.
Approximately 4,000 people a day will pour through the gates of Graceland that week to tour the house where the King of Rock 'n' Roll lived and died -- just 10 years ago.
On Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis Presley died here, in a bathroom of his 23-room, colonial-style mansion. Five years later, the house opened as a museum. Since then, the house has received more than 500,000 visitors a year, and this month will see the greatest influx of visitors ever, says Todd Morgan, the manager of communications at Graceland.
Officially known as Elvis International Tribute Week, the week that marks the anniversary of Presley's death will offer fans everything from an Elvis Presley Memorial Karate Tournament to an all-night candlelight vigil at Presley's gravesite. The staff at Graceland spent eight months planning for the week, and local merchants and organizations have organized events as well.
The week stretches into nine days, beginning Saturday. And although it commemorates a death, it will be filled with entertaining diversions.
The Jordanaires, who were Presley's backup singers, will perform at the Elvis Nostalgia Concert on Mud Island, along with Ronnie McDowell and Charlie McCoy, on Aug. 13. That same day, the auditorium at Humes Junior High School, where Presley once won a talent show by singing "Old Shep," will be named for and dedicated to Presley.
The Pink Palace Museum Planetarium will offer a laser show, "Elvis Legacy in Light," all week.
Dave Wottle, who won the gold medal in the 800-meter run in the Olympics in 1972, will kick off the Elvis Presley International 5K Run on Aug. 15.
"For a while, people had the impression that we have some kind of wake down here," Morgan said. "The candlelight thing on the grounds might have a touch of sadness, but the rest of the week is fun -- laughter, smiles and music. They're all fans; it's family time."
In preparation for the anniversary, local souvenir shops will stock up on Presley memorabilia, and the Graceland-sanctioned shops will offer some new goodies, including blue suede ribbons embossed with gold teddy bears, a board game, a line of jewelry, a pink Cadillac cookie jar, a musical T-shirt that plays "Love Me Tender" and a 10th-anniversary jacket in silver satin.
Some fans, said tour guide Patti Wigley, will come through Graceland every day for a week. Most have been there many times before, but first-time visitors might not know what to expect.
They will find a big fieldstone house with white columns set on an island of green on busy Elvis Presley Boulevard. What was an upper-class suburb in the 1960s is now a working-class neighborhood full of fast-food restaurants, service stations and car dealerships.
"When Elvis bought Graceland, it was out in the country," Morgan said. "It was all woods. Memphis grew in around him in the '60s."
The house itself appears rather graceful. Its de'cor, however, reflects a taste for the flamboyant, with a mirrored table-top veined in gold in the dining room, antique gold chairs, gold and white grasscloth walls, a piano covered with gold leaf. Smoked glass surrounds a gold and white fireplace in the living room, which is dominated by a 15-foot-long white brocade sofa.
Presley played pool in a room swaddled in hundreds of yards of paisley fabric. The pool table has been left just as it was -- with rips in the felt and rings from wet glasses on its frame -- when Elvis died. (Before opening Graceland, its proprietors took the advice of experts from the Smithsonian Institution, who told them not to recover and repair pieces like the pool table.)
Visitors also get to see Presley's trophy room (actually, a whole building, separate from the house), where he kept, among his dozens of plaques and citations, the three things that mattered most to him: his high school diploma, his first gold record and the award he received when he was named one of the 10 most outstanding young men in America by the Jaycees in 1971.
After passing through the house, the carport (which houses a 1955 pink Cadillac and a 1973 Stutz Black Hawk, the car Presley was in when he drove through Graceland's gates for the last time), the trophy room and the racquetball court, visitors exit Graceland through the Meditation Garden.
Here lies Elvis Presley's grave, as well as those of his mother Gladys, his father Vernon and his grandmother Minnie Mae Presley. An eternal flame burns at the head of Presley's grave, and the marker carries a message written by his father.
It pays tribute to Presley's talent, his generosity, his place in music history. And it ends like this:
"We miss you, Son and Daddy. I thank God that he gave us you as our son." For more information: Graceland, P.O. Box 16508, Memphis, Tenn. 38186-0508, (800) 238-2000; or the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, 203 Beale St., Suite 305, Memphis, Tenn. 38103, (901) 526-1919. Janice Gaston is a free-lance writer.