I enjoyed the traditional March of the Ducks the other day while staying at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando. Nice hotel, nice touch (imported from the Peabody Memphis, where the tradition began).
Here's a video from YouTube.
Incidentally, duck is not on the menu at the hotel restaurant. I checked.
From the hotel Web site, the background. I can't attest to the accuracy of the numbers. Let's say I'm skeptical of the accounting on the $100,000 penthouse Royal Duck Palace, but hey, it's Orlando. At least the critters are actually alive, and not electronically animated. And you really don't get to hear a Sousa march much anymore these days.
Hotel web site:
|"Since opening its doors on November 1, 1986, The Peabody Orlando has continued, in unbroken sequence, the traditional March of The Peabody Ducks which began at its sister property, The Peabody Memphis, many, many years ago.|
Each morning, promptly at 11 a.m., the hotel's atrium lobby is the scene of a remarkable ritual. In a special elevator, the five North American mallard ducks, four hens and one drake, comprising The Peabody Ducks, descend from their $100,000 penthouse Royal Duck Palace.
When the elevator doors open, The Peabody Ducks, accompanied by their crimson-and-gold- braid-jacketed Duck Master™, take up their positions on a plush red carpet and begin The March of The Peabody Orlando Ducks to the strident tones of John Philip Sousa's King Cotton March.
They waddle their way in formation through the hotel's marble halls, and when they reach the magnificent, orchid-crowned fountain, which takes center stage in the Atrium Lobby, the ducks mount three red-carpeted steps and splash into the fountain's waters. Tumultuous applause reverberates through the lofty, foliage-draped lobby, and standing ovations are the order of the day by the hundreds of onlookers who daily crowd into the hotel to see one of the greatest shows on earth.
At 5 p.m., the procession is reversed, The Peabody Orlando Ducks marching back to their special elevator, then to their Royal Duck Palace for dinner and a quiet evening together.
The Legend of the Ducks
How did the tradition of the North American Mallard ducks in the lobby fountain of The Peabody Memphis begin? Back in the 1930s, Frank Schutt, general manager of The Peabody Memphis, and his life-long friend, Chip Barwick, returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas. The men had had a little too much Tennessee sippin’ whiskey, and thought it would be funny to place some of their live duck decoys (it was legal then for hunters to use live decoys), into the black travertine fountain of the Peabody hotel. Three small English call ducks were selected, and the reaction was nothing short of enthusiastic. Thus began a Peabody tradition that was to become internationally famous. The original ducks have long since gone, but after 75 years, their progeny live on in the graceful, marble fountain in “The South’s Grand Hotel,” The Peabody Memphis, and also at The Peabody Little Rock and The Peabody Orlando. The Peabody Duck March takes place twice daily at 11am and 5pm."