Five mallard ducks, one drake and four hens make a show of dropping down from their rooftop palace in this regal hotel to frolic in the Italian fountain.
The Peabody Ducks is a majestic and iconic Memphis hotel known for the ducks that can be seen quacking around its fountain. A favorite with kids, the tradition dates back to the 1930s, when the general manager and his friend would leave their live decoy ducks from hunting expeditions here to the amusement and delight of the guests. Bring your little ones to watch the ducks strutting around their eminent surroundings.
Note that the ducks are kept in the so-called Duck Palace on the roof of the hotel. The Peabody Duckmaster leads them down in the elevator to the Peabody Grand Lobby. Check out his Duckmaster Cane. Watch the charming process unfurl, as the ducks traverse a red carpet past their adoring fans to the sound of the King Cotton March by John Philip Sousa. See the ducks at play in and around the glorious Italian marble fountain.
At the end of the afternoon, the ducks are led back through the lobby where they experience the same reception. Watch them waddling back into the elevator, to spend the evening in their rooftop palace.
Chat with staff about the intricacies of the origin of this unusual tradition. In 1933, general manager Frank Schutt and his friend Chip Barwick had returned from a hunting trip in Arkansas and left their live duck decoys, which were legal at the time, in the fountain. The ducks became famous around the country, even appearing on Sesame Street and on talk shows with Johnny Carson and Oprah Winfrey.
The Peabody Ducks ceremony is in the Peabody Memphis hotel in the core of the Downtown Memphis district. It is just a few blocks inland from the Mississippi River. Ride a bus to one of the nearby stops or walk north from the Memphis Tennessee Central railway station for about 20 minutes. While you’re in the area, make sure to check out nearby treasures such as AutoZone Park, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame and the Fire Museum of Memphis.