Thanksgiving at the White House
This year marks the 58th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. Though live Thanksgiving turkeys have been presented intermittently to presidents since the Lincoln administration, the current ceremony dates to 1947, when the first National Thanksgiving Turkey was presented to President Harry Truman.
The presentation at times has brushed against broader history. For example, the November 1963 event was one of President Kennedy's last in the Rose Garden. The first President Bush conducted the 1990 ceremony just before leaving for Thanksgiving with the troops in the Persian Gulf region. President Clinton in 1996 returned from an Asian summit and literally went directly to the ceremony.
The 2005 National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate are from Henning, Minnesota and were raised under the direction of National Turkey Federation Chairman Pete Rothfork. Mr. Rothfork delegated the day-to-day responsibilities to James and Vicki Trites of Henning. The birds are commercial turkeys used in normal industry production, and they were raised using the same techniques as other commercial birds. They were fed a regular diet of corn and soybean meal and were provided a continuous supply of fresh water.
A few minor modifications were made to prepare the birds for the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. About 30 turkeys were removed from the normal commercial production flock and are being raised separately on the Trites farm. The birds are periodically hand fed and given additional interaction with people in an effort to acclimate them.
Presidents traditionally have granted the National Thanksgiving Turkey a "pardon". For the past 15 years, the National Thanksgiving Turkeys and their alternates have been retired to Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Virginia. The farm is a 1930s-era replica farm operated by the Fairfax County Parks Department.
This year, after the presentation, the National Turkey and its alternate will be taken to Disneyland Resort and Theme Park in Anaheim, California to be a part of the holiday display and where they will stay the remainder of their natural lives. Both the turkeys will serve as honorary Grand Marshals for Disneylands annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.
|Democracy and Freedom|
|Blessing and Bounty|
|Marshmallow and Yam|
|Wattle and Snood|
|Corn and Maize|
Speeches & News ReleasesNovember 26, 2005
President Discusses Thanksgiving in Radio Address
November 24, 2005
President Calls Troops on Thanksgiving Day
November 23, 2005
Thanksgiving Menu at Prairie Chapel Ranch
November 22, 2005
President Pardons "Marshmallow and Yam" in Annual Turkey Ceremony
November 19, 2005
Thanksgiving Day 2005 Proclamation
Photo EssaysCheck out our photo gallery since first National Thanksgiving Turkey was presented to President Harry Truman. Learn more »
Ask the White HouseNovember 17, 2004
Christopher "Turkey Guy" Smith
November 26, 2003
Jim Towey, Director of the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives