He doesn't want to look like Elvis Presley or even grow up to be like him. But 5-year-old Cody Burdett listens to "Elvis' Greatest Hits" every night before he goes to bed, and he sure wishes he could sing like The King.
So when Cody and his mom, Charmaine, were late in arriving at yesterday's "Salute to Elvis" celebration in Fells Point, the blond Presley fan from Fort Meade was disappointed because he had missed his favorite song, "Return to Sender."
Another Elvis follower, 12-year-old Mary Lotito of Dundalk, who has visited the Presley home at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., says she doesn't have any reason for liking him except "I just love his music."
So do millions around the world, including the hundred or so who commemorated the 14th anniversary of Elvis' death by gyrating and singing along with Kevin Booth and the Avenue Boys at the Broadway Market Square.
The annual event was created in 1978 on the first anniversary of Presley's death by the Department of Recreation and Parks' Office of Adventures in Fun, said Virginia S. Baker, coordinator of the event.
"A flood of phone calls from the public pleaded with the mayor's office to create something," said Miss Baker, sporting a hat adorned with Elvis buttons.
"As long as we're making people happy, we'll keep it going," she added.
Ann Meyers, president of the Baltimore Elvis Fan Club, sold posters, towels, key chains, mugs and other souvenirs bearing images of Presley.
"It's great; it helps keep his memory alive," she said of the event.
Last year, the fan club donated $1,700 to the Children's Cancer Foundation at Johns Hopkins Hospital from the many dances and functions it sponsors in Elvis' name, she said.
That's just fine with Lisa Reid, 36, and two friends who travel from Jessup to any local events honoring Presley, in search of fun and more souvenirs to add to their collections.
"We wanted to see if there was any memorabilia we haven't gotten yet," Ms. Reid said. "But after this, we're going to Miss Bonnie's Elvis Bar and Shrine on Fleet Street and have a few beers."
As for the debates over whether The King is dead or living in Hawaii, the three die-hard Elvis fans couldn't care less.
"Does it matter?" said Joel Knispel, 49, who is planning a trip to Graceland. "In our opinion, he'll always be alive. Elvis is Elvis, dead or alive."