The Quirky Legend of The Peabody Ducks

Step into the elegant lobby of The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, and you'll witness a tradition that has captivated guests for nearly a century – the legendary march of the ducks. But how did this quirky and beloved tradition begin? Let's dive into the fascinating story behind The Peabody Ducks.

A Tipsy Idea Takes Flight

The year was the 1930s, and Frank Schutt, the General Manager of The Peabody, along with his friend Chip Barwick, returned from a hunting trip in Arkansas with a mischievous plan. Perhaps fueled by a bit too much Tennessee sippin' whiskey, they decided to add some live duck decoys to the hotel's beautiful fountain as a prank. With three small English call ducks selected as their "guinea pigs," they set the stage for what would become an iconic tradition.

The Birth of a Tradition

The reaction to the ducks in the fountain was beyond what Schutt and Barwick had anticipated – it was met with sheer delight from guests and staff alike. And thus, a tradition was born. The sight of ducks swimming gracefully in the fountain became synonymous with The Peabody Hotel, captivating visitors from around the world and earning the hotel international fame.

The Duckmaster's Legacy

In 1940, a bellman named Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, stepped forward with an offer to assist with the care and presentation of the ducks. Pembroke not only helped deliver the ducks to the fountain each day but also taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. With his expertise and passion, Pembroke became the first official Peabody Duckmaster, a role he served with dedication for an incredible 50 years until his retirement in 1991.

Continuing the Tradition

Today, nearly 90 years since the inaugural march, the tradition of the Peabody Ducks lives on. Each day, visitors to The Peabody can witness the ducks' grand entrance into the lobby fountain, where they swim leisurely from 11 am to 5 pm, much to the delight of onlookers. It's a charming spectacle that pays homage to The Peabody's rich history and the whimsical spirit of its founders.