March of the Peabody Ducks: A Quirky Memphis Tradition

ducks standing on a ledge

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In Memphis, Tennessee, there exists a tradition that combines elegance, charm, and a touch of whimsy – the March of the Peabody Ducks. Within the grand Peabody Hotel, this unique event is an experience that transports you to a world where time seems to slow down, and every moment is imbued with sophistication and delight, even on a sweltering August evening that could only be described as hotter than Hades.

March of the Peabody Ducks: A Quirky Memphis Tradition

Picture this: It’s a scorching August day, the sun beating down relentlessly, and the air heavy with humidity. As you make your way to the Peabody Hotel, you can’t help but wonder how the ducks are faring as everyone seems to be touched by the relentless heat. The anticipation is palpable as you enter the cool, air-conditioned sanctuary of the hotel’s lobby.

You find yourself seated at a beautifully appointed table, the icy chill of a glass of refreshing wine offering respite from the oppressive heat outside. Beads of condensation glisten on the glass, a welcome sight on a day like today. Your eyes are drawn to the impeccable attire of the Duckmaster, resplendent in his deep red blazer adorned with fancy gold buttons and gold-fringed epaulets.

But despite the unforgiving heat, the Duckmaster remains undaunted. He is not just a master of ceremonies; he is a storyteller, a custodian of history, and the maestro of this grand performance.

The Show Starts

As you settle into your seat, the room is abuzz with excitement, and the Duckmaster takes center stage. His voice, although soothing, carries the weight of history and tradition. He begins to narrate the captivating story of the ducks in the Peabody Hotel, even as beads of sweat form on his brow.

With each word, the Duckmaster transports you back in time to a bygone era when these remarkable waterfowl first graced the Peabody’s grand lobby fountain. OK, it started as a gag – but you need to hear the story yourself! He shares tales of their comical antics and unexpected arrival, painting a vivid picture of how they became cherished guests of the hotel.

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The ducks seemed to know the timing was near as they had been busy primping for their performance while the Duckmaster spoke. Fluffing their feathers a final time, they waddled through the shallow water of their beautiful daytime respite to line up.

And then, as if on cue, this grand gentleman’s speech reaches its crescendo. He approaches the fountain, walking the the recently rolled out red carpet. With a dramatic flourish, he opens the gate that separates the ducks from the lobby, signaling that it’s time for their daily march.

They step through the magic mini doorway,  down the small stairs, and onto that red carpet in single file with an air of regal composure. The room falls silent as they work their way through the room – only to disappear behind the elevator’s golden doors.

Out of sight, the elevator gently ascends, carrying the Peabody Ducks to their rooftop palace, where they’ll spend the night. 

People clap and cheer… having been a witness to the magic of this Memphis tradition. 

A quick calculation in my head tells me that this ceremony of watching pampered waterfowl has occurred over 30,000 times in the roughly 90 years it has existed– a delightful blend of sophistication and whimsy.

It is totally brought to life by the dedication of the Duckmaster and the charm of the ducks themselves, even in the midst of that scorching summer evening.

As you sip your wine and take in the spectacle, you can’t help but feel that you’re part of something truly special. The March of the Peabody Ducks is not just an event; it’s an enchanting journey into the heart of Memphis, a city that knows how to combine elegance with a dash of the unexpected, even when the mercury soars.

Final Thoughts on the Peabody Ducks

So, the next time you find yourself in Memphis, regardless of the weather, make sure to reserve a table right in front of the Duckmaster. Raise your glass, savor the wine, and let the Peabody Ducks weave their magic, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime. And remember, it’s not just about the ducks; it’s about the Duckmaster, the storyteller who brings this charming tradition to life with every word he utters.


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