The oldest and, short of the Heartbreak Hotel at Graceland, surely the coolest place to stay in Memphis, the Peabody Hotel is known for its world-class restaurants, the super hip Lansky Bros. boutiques (started by the clothier to the King himself!) in its lobby, and of course, the world-famous Peabody Ducks.
Residing in a penthouse suite upstairs (yes, they actually live there!) the Peabody Ducks spend their days relaxing in and around a lavish Romanesque fountain in the hotel’s lobby, pictured below.
Apparently the whole thing started as a whiskey-fueled prank pulled by the hotel’s General Manager and a hunting buddy in the early-1930’s. After drinking way too much Tennessee sipping whiskey, the two decided to place some decoy ducks in the hotel’s fountain. Guests found this charming, so the owners brought in real live ducks and bang…a beloved Memphis tradition was born.
Every morning at 11:00am, the ducks step off the elevator and waltz down a red carpet in the lobby to the rousing music of John Philip Sousa.
Led by the red-suited Duckmaster (pictured below) the ducks make their way to the fountain where they bask in the glow of tourist’s flashbulbs for the rest of the day. Then, at 5:00pm (on the dot!) the Duckmaster returns and leads them back down the red carpet to the elevator and their waiting penthouse beyond.
I’m not kidding, it was insanity. I almost came to blows with a snarky hillbilly chick who said I pushed her, which was not true. I bumped her, ON ACCIDENT, with my backpack. But, man, did I want to push her after that. Crazy!
Unfortunately, since it was such a mob scene around the red carpet during their actual march to the fountain, these more sedate pictures of the ducks (taken the day before) will have to do.
Pretty fancy looking plumage for a duck, huh? Even Christine, an avowed bird hater from way back, pronounced the ducks cute and almost petted one…almost.