'Elvis' Returns for Crystal Lake Dam Fundraiser
BY SARAH BROWN
Since 1978, "there's never been two shows alike" for professional Elvis Presley act Keith Henderson.
Crooning classics like "Hound Dog" and "Love Me Tender," Henderson - an award-winning Elvis illusionist - will bring his "Illusions of the King" show to Union Pines High School's James Stead Auditorium at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15.
"I grew up wanting to sing with Elvis," says Henderson, a Chapel Hill resident and a lifetime fan of the "King of Rock and Roll."
"It's always been my natural style to sound like him."
Concert gigs have taken Henderson across the United States, to Canada, and even aboard a cruise ship for one performance. A sell-out audience was treated to a Henderson show at Union Pines in April 2011.
With a program of mostly Elvis songs and some intriguing Elvis history that "the media hasn't always touched on," Henderson hopes to emulate last year and draw a capacity crowd - all for a worthy local cause.
Thanks to the generosity of local sponsors, all proceeds from Henderson's concert will go directly to benefit Crystal Lake "SUPPORT" Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to the restoration and protection of the Crystal Lake dam.
The dam, nestled just outside Vass in the quaint and tight-knit community of Lakeview, has over the past five years deteriorated to the point of being unsafe. More than $60,000 is needed to fund the repairs.
The portion of Camp Easter Road that runs beside the lake has been closed for more than two years.
"People didn't realize how much (that road) was used and needed until we didn't have it," says Cornelia Ring, a Lakeview resident.
This isn't the first time that the Crystal Lake dam has found itself in a decrepit state.
In the mid-1980s, the dam was falling apart - and the Ballard family, who owned the lake at the time, didn't have the finances to fix it.
Through a series of auctions, barbecue dinners, bake sales and fishing tournaments at the lake, the community as a whole steadily raised the thousands needed to buy the property and make the repairs.
"Anything that we could do to make a dollar, we did it," says Wilma Greene, a dedicated member of the Crystal Lake fundraising crew during both money-raising initiatives.
In 2010, more than two decades later, Crystal Lake found itself in the same predicament - needing repairs and lacking the funds. Inspired to restart their fundraising engines and volunteer were Lakeview residents like Greene, her husband and Ring.
Recent ventures that have raised thousands for the Crystal Lake project include a community yard sale in 2010, a "Jam for the Dam" music festival in 2011, and a summer "dine-out" event this year. Smithfield's Barbecue, Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut and Dickey's Barbecue pledged to donate a percentage of dinner prof-its on certain days to the cause.
To date, Crystal Lake "SUPPORT" Inc. has collected nearly $50,000 for the dam's repairs. Hopes are that Henderson's return to the Sandhills will be the final fundraising push the dam needs - the fund is still about $13,000 short of its goal.
Union Pines' auditorium can hold about 800 people.
"We'd love to see a full house," Greene says. "But whether it's 800 or 100 who turn out, it'll be a great event."
A lifelong Elvis fan herself, Greene - who has seen Henderson perform several times - believes the concert's appeal will reach far and wide in the Sandhills community. "When (Keith) is on stage, you almost forget that he's not Elvis," she says.
Henderson makes many return visits to previous concert venues - his family-friendly show sees regulars attend time and time again. After last year's smashing success, he's back to take a Moore County audience down memory lane once again.
"I perform as though Elvis is in the audience," Henderson says. "It's a heartfelt tribute. I want to do my part to keep his memory alive."
For ticket information, call (910) 245-7231.
Contact Sarah Brown at sbrown@ thepilot.com.
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