Pardon Me Mr President, Is that A Turkey?

Posted by Lise | Filed under: Events

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, President Obama pardoned two turkeys for Thanksgiving 2010. The official presidential pardon took place in the White House Rose Garden when President Barack Obama spared two turkeys’ lives for Thanksgiving dinner, as presidents have done for decades.  First daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, were with their father as Obama called the turkey pardon “one of the most important duties.”

The pardoned Thanksgiving 2010 turkey, named Apple and Cider, enjoyed some pampering this week. Tuesday night each turkey stayed with his (her?) handler in a separate room at the posh W Hotel, complete with aa view of the White House from the rooftop terrace.

After President Obama pardoned the turkeys on Wednesday, the turkeys will spend the rest of their lives at  Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.

Origins

Each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board have given a turkey to the President of the United States at a White House ceremony. Since then, presidents have been more likely to eat the turkey rather than give it a reprieve. A notable exception occurred in 1963, when President Kennedy, referring to the turkey given to him, said, “Let’s just keep him.” It wasn’t until the first Thanksgiving of President George H.W. Bush, in 1989, that a turkey was officially pardoned for the first time.

Confusing the Practice

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have continued the pardons begun under the first Bush. Some confusionabout the true origin of this practice has crept into recent presidential speeches though. One story claims that Harry Truman pardoned the turkey given to him in 1947, but the Truman Library has been unable to find any evidence of this. Another story claims the tradition dates back to Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son Tad’s pet turkey.

From Frying Pan Park to Disneyland

What’s certain is that since 1989 a turkey—and its alternate—have been pardoned each year. An alternate is chosen just in case the first bird is unable to perform its duties. For fifteen years through 2004, the turkeys were given to Kidwell Farm, a petting zoo at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia. The turkeys would receive a last minute pardon before arriving, and were then led to their new home at the Turkey Barn after enduring a turkey “roast” full of poultry humor and history.

In 2005 and 2006, however, the turkeys were flown to Disneyland in California where they served as honorary grand marshals for Disneyland’s Thanksgiving Day parade. After that, they spent the rest of their lives at a Disneyland ranch. A spot in sunny Disneyland seems immensely preferable to a place called Frying Pan Park if you happen to be a turkey who has just escaped from becoming the main course of someone’s Thanksgiving feast.

On Wednesday, November 25, 2009, President Obama gave a turkey named Courage a last-minute reprieve. The bird hails from Goldsboro, N.C. Obama made light of the event. “There are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there are moments like this where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland,” he said. In the past few years, two turkeys have been spared: 2008’s were named Pumpkin and Pecan, 2007’s were May and Flower, 2006’s were Flyer and Fryer, and 2005’s were Marshmallow and Yamy.

If you are relocating to DC, don’t be a turkey! Call the Lise Howe team and they will make sure that your house hunt is a pleasant experience and you are filled with good feelings about the DC metro area! Just give us a call!


24 Responses

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