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Morning coffee at the Peabody hotel
What a surprise we had! You wouldn’t normally expect to find a small group of ducks walking across the foyer of a smart hotel, but that’s just what happened when we went for morning coffee at the Peabody Hotel on International Drive. We had decided to call in at the Peabody hotel at about 10. 30 one morning and were just sitting enjoying our quiet cups of coffee and reading the paper when the ducks appeared. The ever growing crowds should have alerted us to the fact that something interesting was about to happen, but they didn’t. At eleven o’clock the elevator doors opened and there stood a man dressed in a smart crimson braided jacket. He was accompanied by five ducks…. Some marching music started up and the ‘duck master’ walked across the hall followed by the five marching ducks. They marched (in a waddling sort of style) all the way through the hotel’s marble hall until they got to the orchid fountain. At the orchid fountain they climbed up their specially constructed red-carpeted steps and splashed into the fountain water. We made enquiries and found out that they would then stay in the fountain, being admired by all the guests and visitors, until 5pm when the ‘duck master’ would return and they would begin their journey out of the fountain, down the red-carpeted steps, across the marble hall and back to the elevator to go up to their special duck penthouse for the night.
The ducks’ appearance in the fountain every day all started as a bit of a joke. In the 1930s the general manager of the Peabody hotel in Memphis had just returned from a weekend hunting trip with a friend and they were sitting in the bar having a last drink of whisky together. Inspired by the whisky, they thought it would be very funny to put some of their decoy ducks into the hotel’s beautiful marble fountain. The reaction this got from the guests and staff the following day was so enthusiastic that they decided that this was a great idea and they would use real ducks instead of decoys, and so the tradition began.
Ducks stay with the hotel until they are fully grown when they are retired and returned to the wild.
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