Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Peabody Hotel, Memphis Tennessee

Hold that elevator, here come the ducks.

Twice a day – at 11:00 am and again at 5:00 pm, the Peabody ducks parade down a red carpet to the tune of Sousa’s “King Cotton March”.

Since 1933 the ducks have made their daily morning journey from the rooftop “Duck Palace” of the Peabody Hotel located in Memphis, to the elegant marble fountain in the lobby. In the evening, they return to their outdoor enclosure. 

The journey from the roof to the lobby and back includes a ride on the grand hotel’s guest elevator.  

What began as a practical joke by the hotel manager - after a weekend hunting trip and a bit of Tennessee sippin’ whiskey - has since turned the hotel into a world renowned historic site.

Today, the tradition continues. Dressed in a crimson jacket with black trim and silver vest, the duck master relates the tradition of the ducks to the watchful crowd. He gives the signal; elevator doors pop open and the 75 year-old tradition springs to life.

Images of these mallards can be found everywhere in the hotel; on guest room door keys, inlaid into the elevator floors and embossed on cocktail napkins. Even the bathroom soaps are carved into tiny white ducks. 

Just don’t look for them on the menu.

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