Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Annual Turkey Pardon Event is a weird American tradition

  Good Day World!

  Don’t tell me Americans don’t have weird holiday traditions. We’re not satisfied just having a day for thanks and family gatherings, we have to to symbolically pardon the main course of the Holiday feast – the turkey. 

The leader of the free world meets once a year with a handpicked enormous turkey for a photo op, as other politicians look on smiling. If that’s not weird then I don’t know what is. 

American presidents have not been pardoning turkeys as long as you might think. It appears that Abraham Lincoln, in a way, was the first to spare a turkey. But it wasn't a Thanksgiving turkey. It was a Christmas turkey his son had taken for a pet.

So which president was the first to actually pardon a Thanksgiving turkey?

It was John F. Kennedy in 1963. An NBC News archive search found a Los Angeles Times article dated Nov. 20, 1963 with the headline, "Turkey gets presidential pardon."

And that turkey was a monster. The paper described it as a "55-pound broad white tom." Despite a sign hanging around the bird's neck that read, "Good eating, Mr. President," Kennedy took a look down at the "frightened, panting bird" and said, "We'll just let this one grow."

Turkey’s still gobble happily whenever they hear Kennedy’s name during turkey games. The rest is history.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

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