Tuesday, November 21, 2017
News Roundup

'Always on my Mind': Elvis contest draws hundreds in Plant City (w/video)

RECOMMENDED READING


PLANT CITY

In the dressing room behind the stage, he slid into the rhinestone jumpsuit, one leg at a time. He pulled the fabric over his arms, straightened the collar. Then he moved to the mirror, clutching a bottle of hair spray in one hand and a comb in the other. As he brushed his thick black locks, the rollicking chords of Hound Dog boomed beyond the door.

Half an hour later, primping was nearly complete. Pompadour firm, zipper failing to conceal his hairless chest, Cote Deonath, 17, was still concerned with one crucial piece of his impersonation: the sideburns.

"Now I know why Elvis always looked up," Deonath said as he stretched out his collar, which nearly touched his ears. "Cause this jumpsuit is rough on the sideburns."

On Saturday, Deonath was one of 20 performers who dressed as the beloved Elvis Presley and performed in the 12th annual contest at the Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds in Plant City.

All day, hundreds of spectators filled the rows of red chairs, their hands folded, their faces often wrinkled but delighted. They had arrived to see their hero: the king of rock 'n' roll, the jewel of Graceland.

"You really have to have the passion for it," said Jeannie Potter, 65, a member of the Tampa fan club that produced the event.

And indeed, their adoration for the long-deceased star seemed to border on the mythical.

One performer, Keith Carter, said he lost 42 pounds, which match Elvis' age when he died.

Another, Richard Arcoleo of Port Richey, said he was born on the same day and same time, as Elvis.

Jim "Elvis" Reese, who drove from Sarasota with his wife, said he spent close to $4,000 on a jumpsuit with a studded teal peacock on the back.

Deonath, who has been singing since age 3, said his grandmother sparked his interest in Elvis. After she died in 2012, he didn't wear the jumpsuit for a year.

He climbed onto the stage Saturday, the 12th Elvis to receive the microphone, and opened with Walk a Mile in My Shoes, an upbeat number that jolted the audience.

It didn't take long for Deonath to steal the show. A minute into the performance, two women in the front row started clapping along.

He slithered backward across the stage, swinging his hips and arms, knocking his knees. Deonath shimmied during the chorus, his baritone voice bellowing through the gymnasium. During one drum fill, he even had the nerve to turn around and shake his butt, much to the audience's delight.

When the song ended, he sauntered across the stage to thundering applause. He uncapped his water bottle and crooned into the microphone, "I don't know if you guys know this one, but it's called Hurt."

He left the stage to a standing ovation.

Behind the curtain, a slew of performers formed a ring around Deonath, showering him with compliments.

"Great job!" said one.

"That performance gave me chills!" said another.

"This guy's mooching all the moves from me," joked a third.

Smiling, Deonath thanked them all. Then he turned to his friend with a question.

"Are my sideburns still fine?"

Contact Zack Peterson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3446. Follow @zackpeterson918.

 
Comments
FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

FCC chairman unveils proposal to repeal net neutrality

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday followed through on his pledge to repeal 2015 regulations designed to ensure that internet service providers treat all online content and apps equally, setting up a showdown ...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Attorneys invoke Shakespeare, Christ in seeking mercy for killer Adam Matos

Attorneys invoke Shakespeare, Christ in seeking mercy for killer Adam Matos

NEW PORT RICHEY — It took less than three house for a jury to unanimously convict Adam Matos of four counts of first degree murder last week.Now, the jury must decide whether Matos should be put to death for his crimes — murdering the mother of his s...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Setting up Bucs vs. Atlanta

Cannon Fodder podcast: Setting up Bucs vs. Atlanta

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman says it’s another week without Jameis Winston as the Bucs prepare to go to Atlanta, and there’s more on the Bucs’ run-game issues and how the defense has struggled on third and long, a situation most defenses love to be i...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Jones: Maybe the Florida job isn’t as good as we thought

Jones: Maybe the Florida job isn’t as good as we thought

These are strange, unsettling times for the University of Florida.The Gators need themselves a football coach.They offer a terrific job. Maybe one of the best jobs in the country.Right?Uh, right? (nervous laugh)Well, we’ll soon find out. Maybe this i...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Michael W. Smith talks about Texas shooting, Christmas music and Bono

Michael W. Smith talks about Texas shooting, Christmas music and Bono

On the morning after the mass shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Michael W. Smith had pain in his voice. "It’s awful, it’s just awful," said the Grammy-winning Christian music superstar. "Everybody’s going t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top 5 at Noon: Matos death penalty sentencing; Manhattan Casino deal approved; Where to see Christmas lights this week

Top 5 at Noon: Matos death penalty sentencing; Manhattan Casino deal approved; Where to see Christmas lights this week

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:JURY DECIDING IF MATOS DESERVES DEATH FOR HUDSON MURDERSIt took less than three hours for a jury to unanimously convict Adam Matos of four counts of first degree murder last week for killing ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington’s labored portrayal of a shambling legal savant named Roman J. Israel, Esq. is the least of the movie’s worries. This is a story of shifting ethics that should be dramatic, but shaky logic prevents that from happening.Dan Gilroy’s f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We’ve assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even i...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

Crime Stoppers, Straz Foundation still working out Seminole Heights reward money

TAMPA — You can collect $110,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings, but for now you’ll have to make two stops.The David A. Straz Foundation announced Monday it would contribute $10,000 to a reward f...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Forecast: Clouds build, setting stage for a soggy Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Clouds build, setting stage for a soggy Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay

Clouds and temperatures are increasing — and so are rain chances – as Thanksgiving could be a soggy one across the Tampa Bay region.[WTSP]Check the latest Tampa Bay-area live radar: The wet outlook is due to a systems that will produce spotty shower...
Updated: 3 hours ago