No, you weren't seeing things. The Ghost of Fat Elvis, sadly, was not out shopping for new Nikes on the 16th Street Mall on Friday. That was "Gotta Get this Gig" fair, hosted by Fortune Valley Hotel and Casino in Central City.
Replete with a free craps tutorials and Elvis impersonators, the event was designed to promote an upcoming five-day party that will celebrate the recent passage of Amendment 50, which will allow higher bid limits, extend casino hours and craps and roulette games at Colorado's casinos.
The five-day event will begin on July 1 and will continue into the early hours of July 2 (when the gaming change officially takes place). On July 3, the Fourth of July party will commence and carry on through July 5. Each day will consist of progressive cash drawings, product giveaways and live entertainment, including a performance by Derek Evilsizor as Frank Sinatra.
But what would a casino celebration be without the King of Rock 'n' Roll? Today's fair also doubled as a scouting event to find the five best Elvis impersonators to promote the casino at various locations in the Metro area. About a handful of Elvis wannabes auditioned for the crowd, donning the traditional white capes and the frighteningly-stiff coiffures, all battling it out for the chance to represent Fortune Valley.
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Several of the contenders were wearing Elvis costumes with a Fortune Valley logo on the back, thus raising suspicions about the so-called "open-to-the-public" auditions. Kelly Behm, a coordinator of the event, says the Fortune Valley Elvises were there to create the illusion of a good turnout; only three contestants auditioned without being solicited to do so. But Fortune Valley was looking to hire five Elvises, and in the end, all five impersonators (including the ones who were asked to be there) were selected for the job.
"We decided to hire each man who tried out," says Joe Behm, the marketing director for Fortune Valley. "All of them were great in their own way. Each a different shape and size, they're all going to be great spokespeople for the casino."
For the next month, each Fortune Valley Elvis will be handing out swag at locations that include the Rock Bottom Brewery, random Rockies Games, the Highlands Street Fair and Pridefest. According to Behm, today's event already gave them a taste of what to expect when dressed as the King in highly-populated areas.
"Hundreds and hundreds of people came to the tables today wanting to take photos with the Elvises," Behm says. "We couldn't have asked for a better day. It was just awesome."