This article probably should have been titled “Elvis Really Is Everywhere – Part 3,” because it fits that category so well. But, it’s much more fun to go with a wonderful eye-catcher like “Giant Floating Elvis Head.” Either way, here is the story.
Elvisblog readers in the Seattle area know all about the early-May Opening Day celebrations marking the start of the boating season. The Seattle Yacht Club has sponsored Opening Day since 1914, and a parade of boats has been part of the festivities since 1920. The boat parade takes place in Montlake Cut, a ship channel 350 feet wide and 30 feet deep, which links Lake Washington to Puget Sound. A total of 316 boats entered the 2007 Opening Day parade, and thousands more lined the channel, I like that: Watch the parade from the comfort of your boat. Sounds like party time to me.
In 1959, a theme for the boat parade was first used, and the tradition continues. Last year it was “Caribbean Carnival,” and this year it was “Musical Memories.” Every yacht club or individual with a boat in the parade was encouraged to decorate their boat with a musical theme and to have that music playing loud as they go by the spectators. Judging was held in various categories.
Well, the winner in the category for boats with a sponsor was the entry by the nearby Bremmerton Yacht Club. Their entry had no official name, but a popular favorite among the local media was the “Giant Floating Elvis Head.” Its closest competition came from a boat made up to look like the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.
The Elvis idea was the brainstorm of a Seattle police officer, Don Hardgrove. His shift starts at 5:30 a.m., and he had a vision during one of his long morning commutes from Bremmerton. He’s not sure why he got the idea, because he is not a huge Elvis fan and owns no Elvis CDs.
Hardgrove took his idea to the club membership, and they agreed to go with it. They even allocated $1,150 for construction costs and another $500 for costumes for the club members on board.
Hardgrove owns a sailboat, so another member volunteered his 42-foot cruiser for the project. Club members constructed the giant Elvis head — about 22 feet high and 11 feet wide. It had lips that moved and eyebrows that arched, both controlled manually by pulleys inside the head. Eleven crewmembers on board wore white Elvis jumpsuits made of Tyvek, a popular house wrap for homes under construction. They also wore cheap Elvis wigs and sunglasses. With Elvis songs blasting from the ship, these “Impersonators” did their best to duplicate Elvis’ famous stage moves.
The frame for the giant Elvis head was made from PVC pipe and chicken wire, which was covered with heavy-duty canvas. The eyebrows and lips were foam, and the hair was made from several hundred feet of synthetic weed-blocker fabric. When the float was dismantled, the weed-screen mesh was given to the yacht club members for their gardens.
So, parts of ‘Elvis’ will carry on for many growing seasons, keeping down weeds in the gardens of Bremmerton, WA. The Giant Floating Elvis Head is just one more example validating that well-known fact: Elvis really is… everywhere.
© 2007 Philip R Arnold All rights Reserved www.elvisblog.net