Las Vegas: In search of “Big Elvis”

Before our Thanksgiving journey to Las Vegas, a patient at my office mentioned that I should seek out “Big Elvis” while in town. The patient had mentioned that the imposter king visits a couple of casinos on the strip and sometimes downtown venues on Fremont St. He also mentioned that there are different hours on different days and that part of the fun of exploration was trying to find where he would be next.

I’ll totally go on the record and state that I am not an Elvis afficionado. I have nothing for or against the guy, just not my thing… but I was down for the challenge Apparently this particular Elvis I was in search of is quite rotund and does an excellent impersonation of The King. Rumor has it he frequents the piano bar at “The Flamingo” and “Harrah’s” on Fridays. With only this half-assed information to go on, we knew he was somewhere in this city and it was on us to find him.

Knowing full well that I could probably find his schedule and appearances online, but not wanting to cheapen the search, Kris and I decided to play it safe and continue exploring along the west-side of Las Vegas BLVD by NYNY (where we had left off the night before having done Mandalay Bay, Luxor and NYNY) and loop around near The Wynn to the east-side, then head South toward the MGM. By taking this route we would eventually reach The Flamingo and Harrah’s.

One thing I have learned about Vegas on my recent trips is that, after a short while, all the casinos feel the same. I mean, exceptions can be made. I have never seen anything quite like The Bellagio or Ceasar’s Palace, but the rest all just were a bit of a blur. Here is some of that blur…

Many casinos later we walked into Harrah’s and heard the sounds of “Ring of Fire” bellowing out in that peculiar Elvis style coming from the bar. As we crept around the corner we saw a huge crowd gathered and a rather large man with pork chop side-burns, shades and really greasy hair belting out the tune into a microphone. Had we found “Big Elvis?” We had.

Pete Vallee as “Big Elvis” singing “Ring of Fire”

I wouldn’t go as far as to say this was worth the journey, however we had planned on hitting all the casinos on the Las Vegas BLVD this weekend and this one was clearly on that list. Which in fact was why I took on the challenge of locating “Big Elvis.” We hung around for a couple songs then the big man went on a break. We left satisfied and headed back to our suite at the MGM Signature, richer for the experience, but not rich enough for some of the boutiques we had passed by during the day…

Published by DW

Freelance writer, photographer and traveler who enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

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