Tim Foolery

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Duck Parade

I was recently in Memphis for work. I stayed at the Westin, which everyone I met with said was the nicest hotel in town. Not sure I can accurately comment on that, but it was a consistent remark. The colleague I was traveling with had never been to Memphis before, so I tried to show her the town a bit while we were there. I had only visited Memphis once before, but to her I was the expert.

We grabbed a drink on Beale from a down home folksie racist with a heart of gold and a national championship title in firearm marksmanship (yeah, I kid you not, Amber was her name and she sure was a slice of Americana).  After our drink we walked up and down Beale a few times trying to pick out the best place for dinner, some music and another drink or two. We settled on BB Kings, which fit the bill pretty well – the music was great, the food was better than decent and the drinks were flowing.  We didn’t have a late night.

I told my colleague that I’m taking her to lunch and to see the ducks.  She was confused as she had never heard of the Duck Parade at the Peabody Hotel.  For those of you also unfamiliar with this tradition, at 11h00 each day, a flock (is that the right term if they are just walking and not flying?) of ducks takes the elevator from their penthouse to the main lobby, where they walk down the red carpet, past dozens of onlookers, into the fountain.  They hang out in the fountain all day, then reverse their trip around 17h00 back to their penthouse.

Even after I explained the concept to my colleague, she was perplexed.  I forced her to join me.

We arrived around 10h45 and the lobby was utterly packed, but we were able to snag a pretty decent spot to watch the ducks.  At about 10h55 a formally uniformed man entered the area near the fountain and regaled us with the history of the ducks at the Peabody.


We listen closely as the Master of Ceremonies tells us the historical tale of these ducks and the hotel.

Right on queue, the elevator door opened and the ducks dutifully walked by a dozen or so kids sitting on their red carpet and jumped right into the pool.  Once all the ducks were in, the little stairs were removed, trapping the ducks in the fountain (I guess their wings are clipped).

The arrival of the ducks was anticipated and loved by everyone in the room.

After their march, the ducks hop into the fountain and everyone in the lobby has a look of “Huh, that’s it?” on their faces.

The whole process took about 10 minutes and was a bit anticlimactic.  My colleague was digging the pomp and circumstance of the whole thing and we are glad we did it, but it’s not something you’ll need to do more than once (unless you have kids).

When you’ve visited Memphis, did you stop by the Peabody to watch the ducks?  Did you bring your kids or did you go on your own?  Are you as disappointed as I am that the Peabody doesn’t have duck on the menu at any of their restaurants?

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