The Peabody Hotel in Memphis has an unusual tradition that has become what it is known for. In the 1930s, the general manager of the hotel and a friend returned from a hunting trip. After a few too many whiskeys, they thought it would be funny to put live duck decoys in the fountain. That practical joke turned into a daily occurrence.
In 1940, bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus trainer, began the tradition of the Duck March. The ducks, who are kept in their own houses on the roof, take an elevator down every day for their swim in the fountain. The red carpet is rolled out and the tourists snap their photos.
Since his tenure, there have been a few Duckmasters, each charged with caring for the ducks and leading them in their parade. It’s a prestigious position for employees of the hotel.
You can see the daily duck swims at 11 am and 5 pm daily at the Peabody Memphis, located at 149 Union Avenue. It is free to attend, but gets crowded, so you may want to arrive a bit early for the parade.