Friday, July 8, 2016

The Peabody is just ducky!

Most Southerners know about the Peabody Ducks, a group of feathered friends who live on top of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and who travel down to the lobby daily for a grand march to the lobby fountain, where they enjoy themselves all day in the fountain’s water. Around 5 p.m., among similar pomp and ceremony, they march back to the elevator and up to their homes.
What you might not know is that these North American mallards have quite a palace up there on the roof. Called the Royal Duck Palace, the $200,000 structure is constructed of marble and glass and includes a duck fountain, grassy area and a small replica of the hotel where the ducks nest.
Visitors to the Peabody can enjoy the lobby show, where a “Duckmaster” announces the ducks’ arrival and later departure or head up to the rooftop and view the ducks in their hotel habitat. Naturally, if you want to see the ducks in-house, you need to visit after the 5 p.m. departure from the lobby. And while you’re on the Peabody rooftop, check out the great views of downtown Memphis and the Mississippi River.
Watching rooftop ducks.
The story goes that hotel manager Frank Schutt and his friend Chip Barwick arrived back from an Arkansas hunting trip and enjoyed some whiskey in the hotel lobby. As a prank, they placed live duck decoys in the lobby fountain. Amazingly enough — well, maybe not for the South — the ducks became a hit.
The Peabody tradition of bringing ducks back and forth from the lobby began in 1940 when former circus animal trainer Bellman Edward Pembroke offered to teach the ducks the now-famous Peabody Duck March. And yes, it’s a real march. Pembroke served as the Peabody Duckmaster for 50 years, retiring in 1991.
            The Peabody even has a Duck Day Family Package which includes one night's deluxe accommodations, being an honorary Duckmaster, receiving the official brass-head Duckmaster Cane, a Peabody Duckmaster Celebriduck collectible rubber duck toy, a reserved table at the scheduled Duck March and Peabody Duck Cookies from The Peabody Deli & Desserts.

Royal Duck Palace
Memphis view

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