Elvis impersonators revved up for hot rod show

Wade Morrow, who will be participating in the first Elvis Spectacular on Saturday in downtown Lawrence, was at the Douglas County Fair Thursday in full Elvis mode to promote the event. Morrow is also a square-dance caller and was at the fair for a performance with the Happy Time Squares square-dance organization.

If you go

When: Saturday

Where: Downtown Lawrence, South Park

Cost: Free to attend; evening pub crawl is $5; pictures with pin-up models are $20

Cars arrive in the park at 8 a.m.; activities begin at 10 a.m.

Elvis parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at 7th and New Hampshire streets. Anyone dressed in ’50s-style attire is welcome to join parade. Elvis Sing-Off begins at 11 a.m. in South Park.

Rosie O’Brien, a recent Lawrence High School graduate who will be competing in the Elvis parade and contest, is pictured in her Elvis costume.

Elvis will be back in the building next weekend. Well, OK, not the building. Just the park.

The annual Rev It Up Hot Rod Hullabaloo will be Saturday in South Park. It’s always been a celebration of all things vintage cars, but this year, organizers say, it’ll also be a place for Elvis impersonators to sing and swing their hips. The Hullabaloo is teaming up with the first Downtown Lawrence Elvis Spectacular, mixing nostalgia, vintage cars and some old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll.

Rosie O’Brien will be competing in the Elvis parade and contest — a quirky pick for winner, given her gender, certainly, but especially because nostalgia doesn’t quite come naturally to her: She’s just 18.

O’Brien graduated this spring from Lawrence High School, where she was a well-known singer and performer. Earlier this summer, a friend of a friend involved in the car show suggested O’Brien try her hand at being an Elvis. She eventually agreed, found a petite 1950s silver suit, and started watching YouTube videos of a young king performing “Blue Suede Shoes.”

The vocal register has been a bit of a struggle, she says, but she’s getting the hang of the song and plans to perform it while playing guitar.

“I’m slowly working on it,” she says, “but I’m going for it.”

Ask if she thinks she could see a future for herself as an impersonator, though, and she’ll give a hearty laugh.

“I like performing, but I really want to go into politics,” she says. “I guess that’s like performing.”

Wade Morrow will also bring his own flavor to the Elvis extravaganza. He’s a square-dance caller and plans to perform a singing call that’s a medley of Elvis hits alongside his poodle-skirt-wearing square-dance comrades.

But even more than Elvis, Rev It Up is about the cars. Lots and lots of cars.

Dennis Ward will be showing his 1970 Corvette. He doesn’t get out much with it — maybe going 80 miles per hour was slightly more OK when he was young, he says — but when he does, it gives a great excuse to talk about his passion for all things automotive.

“I just love cars,” Ward says of why he puts so much love into his hobby and craft. “I used to build them but now I just enjoy them.”

Rev It Up is also a fundraiser for Just Food, the Douglas County food bank, car wrangler Steve Chronister said. Car showers are asked to donate $10 and car watchers anything they like. There’s no admission fee for the show, though there is a $5 fee to join the pub crawl from 6 p.m.

“There will be fun activities all day,” he says.