Anthony Petrina is the fifth duck master at the hotel; the job was created in the 1940's when a former Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus animal trainer named Edward Pembroke offered to help deliver the ducks to and from the fountain each day. That delivery soon turned into a full-fledged spectacle, with the ducks marching from their rooftop abode, into the elevator, down to the lobby, and across a red carpet into their watery daytime home. The ducks process at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.
Ducks on parade — Photo courtesy of david__jones
The tradition of the duck march started following a hunting trip in 1932. The story goes that then-general manager of the hotel and his hunting buddies, along with their live decoy ducks, stopped in the Peabody's ornate lobby bar for a glass or three of Jack Daniels. The guys thought it would be a hoot to let the decoys paddle around in the fountain of the lobby bar while they relived the hunt. A tradition was born.
Taking a swim — Photo courtesy of Britt Reints
Petrina, a native Memphian and graduate of the University of Memphis, also serves as an ambassador for the hotel and will travel with the ducks to schools and community organizations, as well as media appearances. The ducks have appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Sesame Street and have been featured in numerous publications, from Sports Illustrated to People.