In a move that happens every year and with every president (let’s hear it for tradition), President Barack Obama today “pardoned” the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a White House Ceremony. He and National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Richard Huisinga celebrated the 64th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation.
Huisinga presented President Obama with “Liberty,” a 19-week old, 45-pound tom. The names of the turkeys were chosen from more than 100 submissions to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association’s website that highlighted the National Thanksgiving Turkey.
“Tomorrow is one of the best days of the year to be an American. It’s a day to count our blessings, spend time with the ones we love, and enjoy some good food and some great company,” said Obama.
After his remarks, Obama “pardoned” the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate, “Peace.” Both birds were raised on a Willmar Poultry Company farm in Willmar, Minn., under Huisinga’s supervision. In partnership with Willmar Poultry Company and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, four Willmar-area FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) students were chosen by their high school agriculture teacher to provide the birds extra attention and human interaction in preparation for the ceremony.
“Raising the National Thanksgiving Turkey is an honor and a privilege,” said Huisinga. “Making it even more special was having four students who are part of FFA raise and prepare the turkey for presentation to the President of the United States.”
The night before the presentation, “Liberty” and “Peace” stayed in a room at the W Hotel. After the pardoning, they were driven to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate Museum and Gardens. The National Thanksgiving Turkey will be on display for visitors during “Christmas at Mount Vernon,” a special program through January 6. After the holidays, the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate will live in a custom-made enclosure at Mount Vernon’s nationally recognized livestock facility.
Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pa., gave President Obama’s family two dressed turkeys that will be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank.