This legendary hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, rolls out the red carpet each morning for a marching parade of ducks. 

Families at the duck parade at The Peabody hotel in Memphis, Tennessee (photo courtesy of Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Memphis’ legendary The Peabody hotel exudes charm and Southern hospitality with its Grand Lobby and Italian Renaissance Revival architecture. It’s also home to an unusual tradition that is sure to delight hotel guests of all ages. 

Each morning at 11 a.m., a parade of five mallard ducks marches through the lobby. The birds spend the day swimming in the hotel’s Italianate fountain, before marching out of the lobby each day at 5 p.m. 

As you might imagine, the procession draws crowds of people who gather to take in the treasured tradition. But how exactly did these pampered ducks end up living a life of luxury at Memphis’ most storied hotel?

In the 1930s, hotel manager Frank Schutt returned from a weekend hunting trip in Arkansas with his buddies and thought it would be fun to let his live English call ducks (ones used to attract other ducks while hunting) swim for a spell in the hotel’s elaborate fountain. The guests loved seeing the ducks splash and play, and ever since, five mallard ducks have lived on The Peabody’s rooftop. 

The hotel’s official Duckmaster escorts the birds from their elaborate abode — known as the Royal Duck Palace — to the lobby via elevator and marches them across a plush red carpet to the marble fountain. The rollickingKing Cotton March” by John Philip Sousa plays while the ducks make their entrance. 

Kids are invited to sit at the edge of the red carpet, and it’s a good idea to arrive about 30 minutes early to grab a spot. The Peabody even offers a Ducky Day getaway package that includes the title of Honorary Duckmaster, which allows a guest to assist the official Duckmaster in marching the birds to and from the fountain. 149 Union Ave., Memphis, Tennessee 38103, 901/529-4000,