The residents at Elmira District Community Living were anything but blue when Elvis showed up to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a cold Friday earlier this month.
Elvis impersonator Cameron Michael Caton sang outside of eight EDCL homes in honour of Valentine’s Day Feb. 12.
Caton has spent the last year touring Southwestern Ontario under the name Covid Elvis, singing to those who need a little light in their life and raising much needed items for charity.
With the windchill making temperatures feel like -20C, Caton joked that he should be called a “Cold-vid Elvis-sicle.”
EDCL residential manager Rodger Hanna said he saw the performer on the popular video platform TikTok and knew he needed to track him down to help bring some cheer to residents who haven’t had many celebrations the last year.
“We didn’t have anything planned. We normally put on a big Valentine’s dance for all of our individuals, it’s one of the highlights of the year,” Hanna said. “And then I found his Instagram and I contacted him on there and that’s how we got him booked to come out.”
Hanna says clients were overjoyed to hear about the performance after a year of cancelled plans.
“Our people have really suffered a lot throughout the pandemic. They haven’t been able to go out and do their regular things. They had to stay inside. A lot of people haven’t had visitors… so this is really nice for them to be able to do something fun, something different, something that’s going to brighten up everyone’s day.”
Covid Elvis sang at a safe social distance outside the homes, crooning Valentine’s-themed hits like ‘Love Me Tender’ and ‘Return to Sender’ while excited residents cheered and danced along to the music.
“Everyone is a big fan of Elvis. They all love his music. We’ve had different Elvis impersonators come over the years and perform at the different dances that we do. Everyone always loves it,” Hanna said.
Sounding remarkably like the King, he sang three to four songs at each stop while watchers sang along. Caton says seeing that kind of happiness makes the effort worth it.
“It’s joy, just joy. If you can give anybody joy at a time like this, not even this time but any time, if you can bring joy to people then you’ve served a purpose,” he said.
“I just think that it’s just such a great thing to get to do. You know, helping people and so I’m very honoured and wherever Elvis is, I hope he’s looking down and smiling.”
Caton’s set list also included some of the King’s biggest hits, like ‘Jailhouse Rock,’ as well as his favourite tune, which is an appropriate number for the last 12 months.
“My favourite Elvis song was written by a couple of fellas called Simon and Garfunkel and it’s called ‘A Bridge Over Troubled Water,’” he said.
Based out of Hamilton, Caton was a regular performer at long-term care and assisted living homes for more than 15 years. When Covid forced him to stop singing for residents last March, Covid Elvis was born.
“I never went out as Elvis, I just went out as Cameron,” he said. “I had this green jumpsuit that I bought from a friend and I sang in a lady’s driveway for her 80th birthday. Next thing you know I’m on a talk show and a radio host says ‘I’m on the phone with Covid Elvis,’ so I took it and ran with it.”
Covid Elvis now sings from driveways and outside windows to brighten up other people’s celebrations. In return, he asks that those booking his services run a food drive, collecting non-perishables and essentials for those in need.
Last year Caton collected more than 32,000 pounds of food through 240 food drives and raised more than $1,600 through a GoFundMe page.
Caton says that part of the donations are going to the Mountain Kidz Klub as well as City Kidz to help provide snacks, as well as other charitable organizations.
“We make packages of non-perishables along with personal hygiene products and give them to those living on the street,” he said. “I get to use my gift for a greater purpose.”
Those looking to book Covid Elvis or donate to his cause can do so through his Facebook page, facebook.com/covidelvis or email him at email@example.com.
“And I go anywhere,” he said. “As long as the van has tires then we’re good to go.”
Written by Elizabeth Bate