The one time we "ducked" an opportunity
John Latham joined the ranks of Patrick Swayze, Kevin Bacon and Larry King when he recently served as Honorary Duckmaster at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.
Hundreds of hotel guests gathered to see John direct the 5 p.m. march, which took the ducks from the distinguished Italian marble fountain in the hotel’s lobby to its rooftop where they spend their off-duty hours in the Royal Duck Palace.
The famous Peabody Duck March has been a hotel tradition since 1940, when Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day. Mr. Pembroke taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March and became the Peabody Duckmaster. He served in that capacity for 50 years until his retirement in 1991.
• The Peabody Ducks are five North American mallards: one drake and four hens.
• Duck is not served anywhere at The Peabody, quite possibly making Chez Philippe the only French restaurant in the world that does not serve duck.
• The Peabody Ducks do not have individual names as the hotel recognizes that its resident waterfowl are wild animals, not pets.
• The Peabody Marching Ducks have appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Sesame Street, when Bert and Ernie celebrated Rubber Ducky Day, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in People magazine and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In addition, they were once a question on Jeopardy.
• Each team of ducks lives in the hotel for only three months before being retired from their Peabody duties and returned to the farm where they were raised.
Here’s a video of how the duck march works. Poultry never had it so good.