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First Night Raleigh is a ritual event that, weather permitting, draws several thousand New Year's Eve revelers to the Fayette- ville Street Mall. There's food and drink and funnel cakes; stuff for kids; loads of indoor events; live bands; lots of cops; and a giant acorn ('cause we're the City of Oaks) that's lowered at midnight. (Not from the top of any tall, impressive downtown structure, mind you, but from a mobile crane parked in front of the ass-ugly Civic Center...) The dress code ranges from formal to bag-lady; accoutrements can include party hats, funny glasses, streamers, noisemakers, and balloons. (Tin-foil is popular, too.) Now, wear an *Elvis* suit to said event-- while walking around or just nonchalantly sitting on a bench-- and the fun *really* starts to happen. From eyewitness reports on December 31, 1999, here's what wearing sequins, sunglasses, fake sideburns, and flared bell- bottoms can cause: o you get asked off the street to lip-sync "Burning Love" at a nearby private party o you get a round of applause while casually strolling through Cafe Luna o you get smiles and stares performing similar strolls through other eateries o you get inexplicably recognized by children as young as four-years old o you get waved at, pointed at, high-fived, and "yo- ed" by men of all ages o you get hugged, squeezed, bumped-up against, and lap-sat by women of all ages o you get asked to sign autographs, on both paper and flesh o you get asked to pose for pictures with, oh, a hundred different people o and some of whom either don't speak English or simply don't speak and pantomime their thanks o you get photographed by the First Night staff o you get filmed for the evening news o you cause firefighters to stare o you cause police officers to burst out laughing o you cause traffic to stop when you cross the street o you cause traffic to stop when you walk *down* the street o you get asked about your whereabouts, His death, and why the King is wearing running shoes o you get a request from a Raleigh Park Ranger, who pulls over in her vehicle to ask if you'll sing a song o you hear "I knew he was alive" exclaimed every five minutes o as well as the grammatically colorful "I seen Elvis" o you get cold, despite both your big ol' fluffy long- johns and all the damn walking you're doing o you get refused entrance to indoor events, if you're too cheap to buy a First Night button o and on the way home, you still have to pay for hot do- nuts at Krispy-Kreme. Alas, no gratis for the Grace- lander. Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
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Copyright 2021 by Michael J. Legeros