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Elvis is alive and well in Fond du Lac

  • Article by: EMILY MIELS
  • Associated Press
  • August 26, 2013 - 12:05 AM

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — It has been more than 36 years since Elvis Presley's death, but the King appears to be alive and well in Fond du Lac.

Dale Dalka Sr. can occasionally be found strolling around the city dressed as Elvis, proudly showing off his elaborate costume in memory of the iconic performer.

The 62-year-old Fond du Lac man said he dresses up as his favorite musical celebrity every year on the August anniversary of Presley's death, as well as on Halloween and the singer's Jan. 8 birthday.

Dalka said it all began seven years ago when he watched Presley's "Aloha from Hawaii" performance and decided to attempt to make one of the singer's well-known costumes, The Reporter Media reported (http://fondul.ac/17Koi2T). He created the white suit of polyester cotton fabric and added the cape, gold stars and colorful, sequined eagles.

Creating a costume with a wealth of detail was not an easy task.

"It took me almost nine months," he said. "I watched 'Aloha from Hawaii' and I freeze-framed a lot of it so I could see this cape and how the sequins were on the outfit on the American Eagle on the back and on the front."

Dalka didn't stop there. He said he also recreated the leather outfit Presley wore in his 1968 comeback performance and a Native American costume with feathers.

The outfits generate more than a few comments and weird looks when Dalka wears them in public.

"One guy hollered out, 'I thought you were dead,'" he said. "I just shook my head no."

Although he has the costumes and the look, Dalka said he still lacks Presley's singing talent.

"I'll lip-sync but I don't have his vocal chords. I wish I did," he said.

Dalka said he has been an Elvis fan for a long time, mostly because of his mother.

"My mother's been an Elvis fan," he said. "I was into the Beatles, basically, but then she started telling me about his life."

Dalka was attracted to Presley's "rags to riches" story. The icon was born in a two-room house in Tupelo, Miss. on Jan. 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon Presley, was stillborn, leaving Presley as an only child. His family moved to Memphis in 1948.

Presley had many musical influences and was interested in the pop, country and gospel music of his time, according to a biography on the official elvis.com website.

Living in Memphis, Presley was also exposed to African-American rhythm and blues music. Blending a mix of these sounds and musical influences shot Presley to stardom while also breaking social and racial barriers. He helped change the face of music and culture.

"They liked his voice. They thought he was a black singer," Dalka said.

Presley would sell more than a billion records worldwide, star in 33 films and numerous television specials and earn many awards and nominations, the website biography said.

"He kind of started from nothing and worked his way up," Dalka said.

Presley died Aug. 16, 1977 at the age of 42. It is a day Dalka still remembers.

"My wife at the time told me that Elvis passed away and at first I didn't believe it," he said.

Dalka continues to be fascinated by Presley and admires his generosity, spirit and musical contributions. He said the costumes serve as a good way to spark conversations about Presley and teach younger generations who may not know about him.

Dalka said he plans to continue the tradition of dressing up and even hopes to create some new costumes.

"He's got a fringe outfit that he started off with in 1970 that's made out of leather and vinyl basically. I'd like to make that," he said.

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Reporter Media

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