The pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey tradition continues
First lady Melania Trump to also attend annual turkey pardoning
The White House announced President Donald Trump will employ his pardoning powers next week – on two turkeys, as is the tradition around this time of year.
Tuesday afternoon in the Rose Garden, Trump will pardon the two birds handpicked by the National Turkey Federation to get official amnesty from Thanksgiving dinner plates by the President.
“After the pardoning, the turkeys will join last year’s turkeys at Virginia Tech’s ‘Gobblers Rest’ exhibit, where students and veterinarians care for the turkeys, and the public can visit and learn about the university’s teaching, research and outreach programs in animal and poultry sciences and veterinary medicine,” the White House statement said.
The turkey pardon tradition began during the Harry Truman administration. It faded under Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, but George H.W. Bush brought it back in 1989. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were fans of the pageantry as well.
For Barack Obama, the turkey pardon became a chance for the American public to get a glimpse of his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, who rarely made public photo ops appearances outside of this one.
While it’s unclear if Barron Trump, 11, will attend the ceremony, first lady Melania Trump is expected to be present by her husband’s side. Donald Trump’s most notorious interaction with a bird, a bald eagle used for a Time magazine photo shoot two years ago, didn’t go so well, hatching a meme that’s now been viewed millions of times.
These two birds, raised in Western Minnesota under the supervision of National Turkey Federation Chairman Carl Wittenburg and his wife, Sharlene, along with five young women from the Douglas County 4-H chapter will not meet the fate of thousands of Thanksgiving turkeys. But they may still bear witness to some awkward moments, if the past is any indication.
“The National Turkey Federation will also bring two turkeys from Jaindl’s Turkey Farm of Orefield, Pennsylvania, for the First Family to donate,” according to the White House statement. “The First Family will donate the turkeys to Martha’s Table in Washington.”
Last year’s turkeys, “Tater” and “Tot,” were not spared the annual gift of dad puns provided by Obama, who concluded his term of bird mercy duty with a spate of good ones: “Yes, we cran,” “Thanksgiving traffic can put everybody in a fowl mood,” and “they met their fate with courage …[proving] they weren’t chicken,” are a few examples. (Sasha and Malia did not attend last year’s ceremony and Obama said it was because they didn’t want to be embarrassed by his “corny-copia” of jokes.”)
It is unclear if Trump will have the same gift of word play that was the hallmark of all eight of Obama’s turkey pardons, but a White House official tells CNN the ceremony will be along the same lines as years’ past – so we can only hope for a pun-filled time.