The Peabody Ducks

‘Allo, ducky!

Why is it we love lower class happenings at a high class establishment? Many comedies have been based on this premise, from films such as My Man Godfrey and Coming to America to sitcoms such as The Beverly Hillbillies and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Geez, can I name any examples that were made within the past 20 years?

… good heavens, I’m not sure that I can. It’s not for lack of material, mind you, just my lack of modern pop culture, apparently.

Well, ANOTHER example from many years ago is connected to this inconspicuous-looking building.

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Let me tell you the story of Frank Schutt, The Peabody (pictured above), and ducks. In 1933, Frank was the general manager at a four star hotel in Memphis, Tennessee known as The Peabody. This was a time when it was legal to use live duck decoys for hunting, so he and a friend had these when they went on a weekend camping trip to Arkansas. They also had quite a bit of whiskey with them. On their way back into town, the men realized they still had their duck decoys; they forgot to release them back into the wild when they were done.  The inebriated Frank decided it would be funny to put the ducks in the lobby fountain at The Peabody. He thought perhaps this would start chaos with hotel staff chasing ducks around the lobby and that it would be assumed to be a random mishap of ducks accidentally wandering in.

Instead, the next day, the ducks were still calming swimming around in the fountain. Guests found this addition to be novel and charming. Eventually, an animal trainer got involved and started a tradition that still lives on today, over 80 years later.

Visitors still gather to see THE PEABODY DUCKS- The Peabody, 149 Union Ave., Memphis TN.

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One of the many plaques on the sidewalk in front of the hotel (a la Hollywood Walk of Fame)

Every day, at 11:00am, many cram into the lobby of The Peabody to watch the March of the Ducks. A red carpet is rolled out, the ducks are guided by The Duck Master from the roof and into this elevator…

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… and from there into the lobby fountain via the red carpet.

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The Duck Master presents a certificate to today’s honorary Duck Master (maybe she won a contest?)

I apologize for the distant angle for the following pictures, but the Duck Master kicked me out of my original spot because apparently sitting on the floor next to the carpet is for children only. My mother tried telling him that I was her child, but he did not seem impressed.

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Here they come.
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The Duck Master commands them to stop and pose for pictures.
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… and in they go.
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… except for those two rebellious blokes on the edge.

The ducks will hang out in the fountain until 5:00pm, when they are lead out in the same ceremonious fashion back to the elevator (which apparently attracts an even larger crowd because of the time of day).

All the ducks are raised by a local farmer and, once fully grown, are released into the wild.

There are several gift shops in the lobby area with duck paraphernalia.

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… plus some classier things. Go for an Elvis chocolate bar, perhaps.

The Peabody’s March of the Ducks happens every day at 11:00am and 5:00pm. If you go, I recommend getting there about an hour early to get a good spot. You can order drinks from the bar or coffee shop while you wait.

It’s cute. It’s fun. It’s different. It’s free. It’s in the lobby of a cool hotel. Why not?

Until next time, dahlings…

3 thoughts on “The Peabody Ducks

  1. I enjoyed this one. It reminded me of another story that just happened in Rockford. The story goes like this:

    A coyote ate our ducks on Thursday. The End.

    True story.

    Speech Pathology…We have ways of making you talk!

    >

    Like

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