Little Rock, Ark., gained a Marriott on Wednesday but lost one of its star attractions with the conversion of the property from the former Peabody Hotel, known for its signature ducks.
The Peabody in Little Rock, modeled after its namesake in Memphis, had featured the twice-daily red carpet march of the ducks through its lobby and into its fountain since 2002.
The ducks have retired to a farm in Scott, 20 miles from Little Rock.
Not to worry. The quacky rituals continue on at Peabody hotels in Memphis, where it all started more than 60 years ago, and in Orlando.
In 1932, Frank Schutt, then general manager of the Peabody in Memphis, and a friend returned from a hunting trip to Arkansas. The men had imbibed a bit too much of Jack Daniels Tennessee sippin' whiskey and thought it a great idea to plop some of their live duck decoys in the hotel's lobby fountain.
Three small English ducks were selected. The response was immediate and enthusiastic. The original three were later replaced with five North American mallard ducks.
In 1940, bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus trainer, offered to help deliver the ducks each day to the marble fountain. He taught his charges the now-famous Peabody Duck March and served as the official Peabody duck master until he retired in 1991.
The Peabody ducks (one male, four females) march at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily at the Memphis and Orlando hotels, spend a few minutes splishing and splashing before returning to their royal duck palaces on the hotels' rooftops.
Each team of five mallards lives in the hotels for three months before being retired from their Peabody duties and returned to duck farms to live out the remainder of their days.
Duck is not served in any of the Peabody restaurants.— Gay Nagle Myers