TRAVEL
March of the ducks twice daily in the hotel lobby

THE iconic Peabody Hotel in Memphis is owned by the Belz family which rescued it from demolition in 1975.

It took six years and a 35m investment to restore it to the grand hotel it is today.

Jack, 90, the patriarch of the family, is still involved in its operation.

Five minutes from Beale Street, the Peabody has its own kosher kitchen.

It also offers a unique experience, involving the hotel's near-legendary ducks.

Every day they march from the lift to the lobby fountain and back at 11am and 5pm.

It all began in the 1930s when the-then general manager, Frank Schutt, and a friend returned somewhat inebriated from a hunting trip.

They decided to leave some of their live duck decoys in the fountain. Guests were intrigued and the ducks remained a permanent fixture.

In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March.

Pembroke became the Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity for 50 years until his retirement in 1991.

Anthony Petrina is the present incumbent and leads the ducks in their twice-daily routine before a crowd of guests.

The ducks are well-disciplined and, but for the time Joan Collins spooked them by upsetting their routine as they returned to their penthouse home - suffice to say her white trouser suit was soiled - they are impeccably behaved.

And since the Belz family have been running the 464-room hotel, happily, duck dishes are banned from the menu.

www.peabodymemphis.com


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