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 Home > News & Policies > November 2002

The Annual Pardoning of the Thanksgiving Turkey

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President Bush pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.

This year marks the 55th consecutive pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey. This event began during the Civil War when Tad Lincoln asked his father to spare a turkey named Jack from a holiday meal. President Abraham Lincoln obliged his son and pardoned the fortunate turkey. Years later in 1947, President Harry Truman pardoned the first National Thanksgiving Turkey.

Photograph of President Truman receiving a Thanksgiving turkey from members of the Poultry and Egg National Board and other representatives of the turkey industry, outside the White House.   Photograph of President Nixon receiving a Thanksgiving turkey from members during the annual pardoning ceremony.

Every year, the National Turkey Federation has raised a turkey to participate in the ceremony at the White House. This year's National Thanksgiving Turkey is a female and her name is Katie.

Special care and attention has been given from the first day the turkey was hatched, with increased personal interaction helping acclimate the bird for the crowds at the pardoning ceremony. The turkey will live out her remaining years at the Frying Pan Park's Kidwell Farm, a petting farm for children in Herndon, Virginia. Pardoned turkeys have been sent to this farm for the past 11 years and have an average life expectancy of two years.

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