Photos: 'Elvis' performs in Woodbury
WOODBURY — Dressed in a homemade white jumpsuit, gold aviator sunglasses and a coiffed black wig, Joe Hilyar paid tribute to legendary singer Elvis Presley with a performance for Woodbury Senior Living residents on Thursday, Aug. 16, the 41st anniversary of Presley's death.
Hilyar swiveled his hips and curled his upper lip while singing some of Presley's classics, including "Can't Help Falling in Love," "Hound Dog" and "Burning Love."
Even as a storm rolled in after the show, he posed for photos with adoring fans.
"I'm shaking," one resident said, grinning.
But the performance was just a small part of Hilyar's day. Beginning at 5 a.m., he walked 55 laps around the senior living campus — a total of 26 miles.
Hilyar, who works in memory care at the campus, visited with residents as Elvis while also raising money for the Alzheimer's Association. Milton Harrison, board administrator for Senior Care Communities, Inc., donated $1,000 to the Alzheimer's Association. The total amount of money raised during the event was still being tallied at press time.
Hilyar's beginning as "the King" was humble. Five years ago, during an internship at the senior living campus, he noticed there wasn't much to do on Sundays.
He first started "Friendship Sunday" as an outlet for his singing. Then Hilyar found the Elvis costume, mostly made up of thrift store pieces — a white button-up, white women's pants and a red cape, along with the sunglasses and sideburn-adorned wig.
Hilyar first started walking long distances in 2012 when he was trying to lose weight. Since then, he's lost about 130 pounds. To prepare for his marathon role as Elvis, Hilyar walked 20 miles the previous day.
His all-time record? 53 miles in 18 hours, he said.
Hilyar, who has now worked in memory care at the campus for three years, said "it means a lot" to him to make people smile with his performances.
"I'm just kind of bridging my talents together," he said. "I felt like there was a chance to share my gifts with people."