facebook linkedin twitter

Turkeys to Take Posh Turn Ahead of White House Pardon

November 17, 2021 by Dan McCue
Peanut Butter and Jelly take a star turn at the Willard Hotel. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — A pair of winged celebrities are scheduled to check in to the posh Willard Hotel tomorrow as they prepare for an all-important meeting with President Biden on Friday.

We’re talking, of course, about the turkeys who will be pardoned by the president ahead of the nation’s Thanksgiving holiday.

This is the 74th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation, during which one turkey is officially pardoned and the other is pardoned as its “alternate.” So far the names of the honorees are being kept under wraps.

The Rose Garden ceremony on Nov. 19 will be the first turkey pardoning of Biden’s presidency.

Last year, former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump pardoned “Corn” and “Cob,” a pair of turkeys from Walcott, Iowa.

What we know about this year’s pardonees so far is this: The lucky pair were raised by Indiana turkey grower Andrea Welp under the supervision of National Turkey Federation Chairman Phil Seger. 

Seger serves as vice president of live turkey operations for Farbest Farms, Inc. headquartered in Jasper, Indiana. 

The turkey’s arrival in Washington will be accompanied by a press conference Thursday morning in the grand ballroom of the Willard Hotel. The event is not open to the general public, though it will be livestreamed here.

Following their pardon, the pair will reside in the Animal Science Research and Education Center at Purdue University.

According to the university, they will reside in a separate enclosed indoor setting with access to a shaded grassy area.

A bit of trivia: Indiana is the fourth largest turkey producing state in the nation and ranks first in duck production and second in egg production. In addition, the poultry industry contributes more than $12 billion in total economic activity to Indiana and employs more than 12,000 people.

Though the tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey is often said to have started with President Abraham Lincoln’s clemency of a Turkey in 1863, the White House Historical Society says the practice did not become an annual event until the presidency of George H.W. Bush.

In between, some presidents pardoned turkeys — John F. Kennedy did — and others didn’t.

But somehow turkeys always seemed to be around the White House this time of year.

The tradition of giving the president and the first lady a turkey was begun by an enterprising Rhode Island poultry dealer named Horace Vose. He began sending plump birds to the White House in the early 1870s and continued the tradition through 1913, when he died.

From 1914 onward, the opportunity to give a turkey to a president was seen as a big deal, and the poultry gifts that arrived often came with patriotic or partisan flair.

In 1921, an American Legion post furnished bunting for the crate of a turkey en route from Mississippi to Washington, while a Harding Girls Club in Chicago outfitted a turkey as a flying ace, complete with goggles, the White House Historical Society website says.

For years, many people credited Harry Truman for starting the modern tradition of turkey pardons, but alas, he was heard to quip in 1948 that the birds he received that year “would come in handy” for Christmas dinner.

Truman did establish one precedent, however. He was the first president to receive a turkey from the Poultry and Egg National Board and the National Turkey Federation, a tradition that carries through to today. 

In the final years of the Nixon presidency, First Lady Pat Nixon accepted the turkeys on behalf of the president and in 1973 sent the bird to the Oxon Hill Children’s Farm in Prince George’s County, Maryland. 

The 1978 turkey, presented to First Lady Rosalynn Carter, met a similar fate when it was sent to Evans Farm Inn in Tysons Corner, Virginia, to live in a small zoo.

After 1981, the practice of sending the presentation turkey to a farm became the norm under President Ronald Reagan. 

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

A+
a-

In The News

December 2, 2021
by Reece Nations
Stacey Abrams Announces Georgia Gubernatorial Campaign

ATLANTA — Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams announced on Wednesday she will again run for governor in 2022. Abrams previously sought... Read More

ATLANTA — Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams announced on Wednesday she will again run for governor in 2022. Abrams previously sought to become Georgia’s first Black female governor in 2018 when she lost to current Gov. Brian Kemp. That election came down to the wire but Abrams... Read More

December 1, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Supreme Court Case Hints at Change In Federal Agency Regulation Decisions

WASHINGTON — Conservative judges on the Supreme Court suggested this week during arguments in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit over Medicare drug... Read More

WASHINGTON — Conservative judges on the Supreme Court suggested this week during arguments in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit over Medicare drug reimbursement that now might be the time to overturn a decades-old guiding principle of administrative law. The issue in American Hospital Association v. Becerra is a... Read More

Justices Signal They'll OK New Abortion Limits, May Toss Roe

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Wednesday signaled it would uphold Mississippi's 15-week ban on abortion and... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Wednesday signaled it would uphold Mississippi's 15-week ban on abortion and may go much further to overturn the nationwide right to abortion that has existed for nearly 50 years. The fate of the court’s historic 1973 Roe... Read More

December 1, 2021
by Reece Nations
Paid Leave Advocates Say Bipartisan Path not Feasible

WASHINGTON — Advocates for the passage of paid family and medical leave into law are pushing the policy as a... Read More

WASHINGTON — Advocates for the passage of paid family and medical leave into law are pushing the policy as a solution to what could be a difficult 2022 midterm election for Democrats. Provisions for paid leave were included in the Build Back Better framework that passed... Read More

December 1, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
White House to Release Plan for Fighting COVID-19 Variants

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said he will unveil plans this week on how his administration will work to slow... Read More

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said he will unveil plans this week on how his administration will work to slow the spread of the new COVID-19 variant, known as omicron, which emerged in South Africa and has been classified by the World Health Organization as a... Read More

Abortion Rights at Stake in Historic Supreme Court Arguments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortion rights are on the line at the Supreme Court in historic arguments over the landmark ruling nearly 50... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortion rights are on the line at the Supreme Court in historic arguments over the landmark ruling nearly 50 years ago that declared a nationwide right to end a pregnancy. The justices on Wednesday will weigh whether to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top