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Published: Friday, 3/19/2004

The King lives on at Toledo Elvis fest

Robert Rosencrantz sings during last year's festival. Robert Rosencrantz sings during last year's festival.

Rock and roll king Elvis Presley may have died more than a quarter century ago, but his spirit lives on in the hearts of his fans and impersonators.

The area will host many members of both groups this weekend - including a fan who is coming all the way from Scotland - at the second Toledo Elvis Festival tonight and tomorrow at the Zenobia Shrine. Last year's event attracted about 1,200 people, said Robert Rosencrantz, an event organizer who is among the featured impersonators.

"We do it 'cause we like Elvis," Rosencrantz said, explaining the urge to dress in spangled jumpsuits and perform. "It's like a cult, almost. But it's a good cult. Everybody's fun and nice."

Among the special guests: drummer D.J. Fontana, who recorded hundreds of songs with Presley; Ray Walker of the Jordanairs, and Myrna Smith, who sang backup for Presley for several years. Diamond Joe Esposito, Presley's road manager and confidante for nearly 20 years, will also attend.

And 20 Elvis impressionists from the United States and Canada will compete in an impersonator contest.

Proceeds from the charity event benefit the Family and Child Abuse Prevention center of Northwest Ohio and the Shriners Hospital Transportation Fund in Toledo.

The event is hosted by Elvis Presley's Sweet Sweet Spirit Fan Club of Toledo.

Doors to the Toledo Elvis Festival open at 5 p.m. today and 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Zenobia Shrine, 1511 Madison Ave., Toledo. General tickets are $20 today and $25 tomorrow. Information: www.elvissweetspirit.com.

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