Fri08292014

Wedding To Remember

A King-size party: Elvis evening at LA history museum 'a hunk, a hunk' of huge success

Amid heritage oak trees glittering with twinkling lights, Los Altos History Museum guests enjoyed wine and fatty food on the patio Aug. 17 when they commemorated the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.

Many were clad in 1950s- and '60s-style clothing. "It was the attack of the poodle skirts," said Ellen Gonella, who dressed in poodle skirt, saddle shoes and Elvis fan club buttons.

The 130 partygoers were entertained by an Elvis-tribute artist dressed in an imitation of the rock star's famous white jumpsuit and cape, bejeweled with rings and chains, and sporting the thick, black Elvis coiffure and hairy chest. The hair was all his own.

"It was a riot," said Laura Bajuk, the museum's executive director. "It was the funnest party I've been to in ages."

It was also no time to be on a diet.

Guests munched on Elvis favorites: Ritz crackers spread with peanut butter, mini corn-dogs, deep-fried bananas with mayonnaise and a barbecue spread catered by San Francisco-based Memphis Minnie's, which cooked up chicken, pork, beans and coleslaw, among other traditional Southern dishes, all in keeping with Elvis' heritage.

"Just thinking about it is hardening my arteries," Bajuk said.

Still, Bajuk said they almost ran out of food as the party petered out after 11 p.m.

The partyers danced to Elvis songs all night and quenched their thirsts with Blue Suede Chardonnay, The King Cabernet and Jailhouse Rock Merlot, all from Graceland Cellars, according to Gonella.

The museum hoped for an attendance near 100, Bajuk said she was elated by the larger turnout. She credited the evening's success to the contributions of event organizers Jane Reed, Diane Simmons, Pinky Whelan and Ellen Gonella, who contributed many items from her own Elvis collection for the museum's concurrent exhibit memorializing Presley.

"We have so many talented people in this community," she said.

Adding to the festive atmosphere, Elvis-the-impersonator sang and brought a stash of handkerchiefs to wipe the sweat from his chest and pass on to swooning ladies.

"Thank goodness we'd all had a little wine," Bajuk said, laughing.

Earlier in the month, the museum sponsored an Elvis movie night, which featured "Viva Las Vegas," and in July, a teddy bear picnic lunch. Bajuk's husband, Doug Debs, impersonated Teddy Roosevelt in his Stetson hat and cowboy boots. She didn't mention a big stick.

All three fundraising events support the museum exhibits, but the Elvis evening was the most successful, according to Bajuk.

"We all had a rockin' good time," Gonella said.

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