The Peabody Hotel in Memphis is famous not just just for its exemplary service, but also for a truly unique attraction – the March of the Peabody Ducks, which involves a performing troupe of, you guessed it, ducks. The whimsical experience is enjoyed by guests both young and old alike, every day of the year.
The daily routine of the Peabody Ducks goes something like this – each morning, at exactly 11 a.m., five North American mallard ducks, four hens and one drake, come down from their $100,000 penthouse in the hotel in their very own private elevator. As the doors open, the ducks take their positions on a plush red carpet in front of their Duckmaster. Then they begin to march to a rousing rendition of John Philip Souza’s King Cotton March. When they reach the orchid-tipped marble fountain in the Grand Lobby, the birds ascend four red-carpeted steps and splash around in the fountain’s water. They stay there until 5 p.m., when the procession is reversed and they march back to their elevator, returning to the Royal Duck palace for a quiet evening.
The Peabody Duck March is the brainchild of Frank Schutt, the general manager of the Peabody Memphis back in 1932. When he and his friend Chip Barwick returned empty handed from a weekend hunting trip in Arkansas, they put live ducks in the Grand Lobby fountain of the Memphis hotel as a joke. After enthusiastic response from other guests, the tradition was born. According to the hotel’s website, “In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with guiding the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became the first Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity for 50 years until his retirement. The original ducks have long since died, but after nearly 80 years, the marble fountain in the hotel lobby is still graced with the presence of specially-trained ducks.”
Photo: The Peabody Hotel
Did you know the Peabody Ducks are so famous that they have appeared on shows like the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Sesame Street and the Oprah Winfrey Show, and were featured in People Magazine? Several celebrities have stayed at the Peabody to see the ducks perform their march, and you can too, every day between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.