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This year marks the 56th anniversary of the first National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. Though live Thanksgiving turkeys were presented intermittently to presidents since the Lincoln administration, the current event 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. President Clinton, in 1996, returned from an Asian summit and literally went directly to the ceremony.
A few minor modifications were made to prepare the turkeys for the presentation. The 40-bird flock was segregated into a special area in the barn, and the turkeys periodically were hand fed and given additional interaction with people in an effort to acclimate them to the environment they will experience in the Rose Garden Ceremony.
By mid-fall, 15 finalists are selected. The week before the presentation, the National Turkey Federation chooses the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate to bring to Washington. An alternate is chosen in case the National Thanksgiving Turkey cannot fulfill the responsibilities of being the National Turkey.
After the presentation, the turkeys will be taken to Frying Pan Park's Kidwell Farm where they will reside.