Peabody Ducks, Memphis
One of the places we visited on our city tour was the Peabody Hotel. Here we got out and went in. At 11:00 the ducks which are housed on the roof, come down on the elevator, and waddle down the red carpet and jump into the fountain in the center of the lobby where they would stay until 5 pm when they would go back up the elevator. This tradition dates back to 1933.
On the advice of the tour guide I went up on the mezzanine to for a better perspective, but it was so dark and there were such crowds of people that my pictures don't amount to much. It's really fun to see though, and is one of the iconic sights of Memphis
Tidbits from the hotel website
# The Peabody's lobby fountain is cut from one enormous piece of travertine marble made and shipped from Italy for the hotel's 1925 opening. The colorful flowers adorning the top of the fountain are changed out every other day in the middle of the night.
# When off-duty from the Lobby, the ducks live in their Royal Duck Palace on the hotel's rooftop.
Taken from the Peabody Memphis website: The tradition of the famous Peabody Marching Ducks began in 1933. Peabody General Manager Frank Schutt, an avid sportsman, and a friend Chip Barwick, returned empty-handed from weekend hunting trip in Arkansas. The two friends had a bit too much Tennessee sippin' whiskey, and decided to play a prank and put their live duck decoys (which were legal at the time) in the fountain in the hotel's Grand Lobby.
Three English call ducks were placed in the fountain, and the reaction from hotel guests was nothing short of enthusiastic. Soon, five North American Mallard ducks would replace the original ducks.
In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became the Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity until his retirement in 1991.
In 2003, The Peabody Memphis conducted an extensive search for a new Duckmaster, garnering the attention of national media outlets such as CNN, the CBS Early Morning Show, and The Wall Street Journal. The Duckmaster is solely responsible for the care and wellbeing of the Peabody Ducks, including feeding, exercise, and training the teams for their daily march.
Today, the ducks are housed in the "Duck Palace" on the hotel roof. Every day at 11 am, they are led by the Duckmaster down the elevator to the marble fountain in the Peabody Grand Lobby. A red carpet is unrolled and the ducks march through crowds of admiring spectators to the tune of John Philip Sousa's King Cotton March. The ceremony is reversed at 5 pm, when the ducks retire for the evening to their palace on the roof of the hotel.
The Peabody's famed ambassadors are five Mallard ducks – one drake with his white collar and green head, and four hens with less colorful plumage. The ducks are raised by a local farmer and a friend of the hotel. Each team lives in the hotel for only three months before being retired from their Peabody duties and returned to the farm to live out the remainder of their days as wild ducks.
My take: You'll need to get there early - visit the Duck Palace on the roof of the hotel, shop in the Peabody Gift shop (I bought a cute Peabody Rubber Duckie for my collection), then queue up for a good view of the Duck parade. It sounds hokie, but it is really cool. When I was there, Emeril Lagasse was the guest Duckmaster!
Originally I wanted to see the ducks on parade but our timing didn't work out for that. However, I enjoyed seeing the beauty of The Peabody and that works for me. The ducks were frolocking in the water and it was good to see them enjoying their home. The Peabody has a gorgeous lobby and beautiful flowers on display. It was a nice excursion.
Every day at 11:00 a.m., the Peabody Ducks are escorted from their penthouse home, on the Plantation Roof, to the lobby via elevator.
Huge crowds gather.
Can't see what the fuss is all about to be honest.
One of the most famous traditions in Memphis are the ducks at the Peabody Hotel. If you go to the lobby and the great hall adjacent to the check-in desk, there you will find a fountain with a large floral display on top. At the base of the fountain you are likely to find the Peabody ducks, a mallard and four drakes, swimming around without a care in the world. Each day at 11:00am, the ducks are brought down from their rooftop "palace" via the elevator and across the lobby on a red carpet to the fountain. The process is repeated in reverse each evening at 5:00pm. If you would like to see the ducks walk from the fountain to the elevator (or vice versa in the morning) be sure to get there early. When we were there on a Friday afternoon enjoying drinks and conversation in the great hall, the crowd started gathering around 4:15pm. And what a spectacle it was. There is a duck master who trains the ducks and escorts them through their paces. He also provides some of the history of the ducks to the audience and has some of the children participate in pre-march activities. It's all a lot of fun for everyone!
There's nothing like standing next to a red carpet watching the famous Peabody ducks Duckmaster takes the ducks from their palace in the sky down in the elevator and then onto the red carpet that has been rolled out for them to the fountain. And this happens in reverese at 5pm everyday. The tradition all started back in 1930s when the general manager and a friend were a little tipsy after a day of duck hunting and thought it was be fun to put the live decoys into the fountain. To their amusement the guests loved it so to this day the tradition of the ducks in the fountain continues. It's a really cute thing to watch that's for sure!! It is a must see in Memphis!!!! There's nothing like it!! :-)
the peabody hotel is a very old, famous, and majestic hotel near the beale street area. it is fun and relaxing after a long day to go there and sit in the lobby area, whether or not you buy a drink, and watch for famous people (the hotel is very expensive). no one tries to get you to leave or make you buy something. at certain posted times, a parade of ducks gets off the elevator and marches in perfect formation to the fountains.
there are several VERY EXPENSIVE little shops off the lobby area. there is also a terrific pastry/sandwich/breakfast shop at one end of the hotel that is very reasonable in prices, and the pastries are sensational, especially if you love chocolate.
The peabody hotel has some really famous ducks that live on top of the hotel in what is called thier "palace" Every day at 11am the ducks come down on the elevator to walk a red carpet to the fountain where they spend the day and then at 5pm they head back upstairs via the red carpet again. It is really cute and a must see.
Sometime in the 1930's, the general manager of the Peabody Hotel had just returned from a hunting trip in Arkansas with a friend of his. They had been drinking, and thought it would be funny to put a few ducks in the fountain in the lobby of the hotel. Everyone loved it, apparently, and has since become a tradition at the Peabody. The full story is told on the website listed below.
Every day at 11:00am, the five famous ducks march on their red carpet right into the fountain, and spectators from around the world, line up to see the pompous ceremony. The ducks enjoy swimming in the fountain until their "duty" is over at 5:00pm, when they march back into the elevators to return to their penthouse on the roof. Both ceremonies are free to the public and everyone seems to enjoy it, including the ducks.
Please see my "Off the Beaten Path" tips for photos of the duck's palace and fountain on the rooftop of the Peabody Hotel.
As we were advised by nearly everyone whom we told we were visiting Memphis, we went to see the ducks at the Peabody Hotel downtown. The Peabody Hotel is without question the most luxurious hotel in the city and among their ammenities is an indoor fountain featuring their very own family of ducks. Each morning and evening these ducks make a trip through the lobby to or from the elevator, headed up to or down from the hotel's rooftop they call home. The ducks' daily walks to and from the elevator are quite a spectacle, drawing crowds of several hundred people. While we did manage to glimpse one of these duckwalks through the throng, it is much easier and more leisurely to go and see the ducks during their "off peak hours", i.e. when they are swimming, not walking.
If you must see the duckwalk, the cute birds make their entrance at 11 AM, but you'll want to get there at least a half-hour before hand to get a good spot.
Arrive in the lobby of this grand hotel at 11AM and watch the elevator doors open to a parade of ducks. They waddle their way to the central fountain, where they splash the day away.
Arrive in the lobby at 5PM and watch the ducks as they get out of the fountain and walk the red carpet to the elevators.
The ducks really spend their evenings at a local farm.
You've gotta check out the famous Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Hotel!
These famous ducks live the high life...they live in a penthouse in the Peabody and everyday at 11am, they come down the elevator, walk down a red carpet, and jump into the huge fountain in the middle of the lobby for a swim...then, at 5 pm, they go back up their rooms after a long day...It's hysterical to see all these people crowded around to see this, and all the flashes of cameras. It's just about the strangest (but cutest) thing I've ever seen!!
You must go to the Peabody to see the DUCKS. Then, stop in at the bar in the lobby and order a 'Shirley Temple'. Serious!!!
The Peadbody Hotel is a wonderful place to stop and rest tired feet. We may not all be able to afford to STAY at the Peabody but how about 'tea'?