Elvis Presley Death Anniversary Vigil

Visitors participate in a candlelight vigil for Elvis Presley at Graceland, Presley's Memphis home, on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. Fans from around the world are at Graceland for the 40th anniversary of his death. Presley died Aug. 16, 1977.(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

For nearly four decades, fans of the late singer Elvis Presley have made a solemn procession past his grave at his Graceland mansion during the annual candlelight vigil commemorating his death, without paying a penny.

This year, on the 40th anniversary of the rock 'n' roll icon's death, it cost them $28.75.

Many fans were not happy.

Visitors attending the vigil that began Tuesday night and runs into Wednesday had to have an Elvis Week Property Pass wristband to walk up the long driveway and past the graves where Presley and relatives are buried, Graceland told the Associated Press in a written statement. The $28.75 wristband also provided access to a new $45 million entertainment complex at the Memphis tourist attraction.

Graceland, operated by Elvis Presley Enterprises, said it anticipated large crowds and it updated its security measures for Elvis Week, the annual celebration of Presley's life and career in music and movies. Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, in Memphis.

"In order to keep everyone safe and ensure an enjoyable and meaningful event for all, we have worked closely with local, state and federal security authorities to establish new procedures that have been widely used across the U.S.," Graceland's statement said.

Thousands of mourning fans holding white candles burning a yellow-orange flame made a slow, silent walk through the graves Tuesday night. Before the procession began, Priscilla Presley, the performer's former wife, and Lisa Marie Presley, their daughter, thanked the crowd for their love and dedication.

A crowd estimate was not immediately available. Officials had prepared for about 30,000 to 50,000 people.

A few Presley fans made a pilgrimage to Graceland the year he died, and they've continued coming ever since. Graceland says it averages 500,000 visitors per year from around the world.

The announcement surprised fans who didn't know about the charge when they made plans to come to Elvis Week. Some reacted with angry messages on social media, saying they won't attend another vigil.