President Barack Obama will kick off his final Thanksgiving in the White House this week by participating in age-old American tradition: the turkey pardon.
The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation, which may have started as early as 1863 with Abraham Lincoln or as late as 1947 with Harry Truman, has become a strange, annual duty of the commander-in-chief. The event itself is simple, with a short speech before the turkey gets formally saved from the Thanksgiving table. In Obama's case, the pardon is an opportunity to share some fowl dad jokes.
"Time flies, even if turkeys don’t," he said last year, according to Politico. "I know some folks think this tradition is a little silly. I do not disagree. But I do enjoy this chance to wish America a happy Thanksgiving."
This year's National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is scheduled for Wednesday at 2:40 p.m. EST, according to a White House news release. It will take place in the Rose Garden and be broadcast live here.
Two lucky birds will travel from the Iowa Turkey Federation to the pardon in Washington, D.C. Obama will select one, and it will remain unnamed until the ceremony, according to the Des Moines Register. Afterward, both birds will retire to a place called "Gobblers Rest" at Virginia Tech.
Visitors can see the birds Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST at the Livestock Judging Pavilion at 445 Plantation Road in Blacksburg, Virginia, the Augusta Free Press reported. Virginia Tech staff and students will ultimately take care of the pardoned birds.
"The turkeys’ presence will help further promote the connections of modern animal agriculture, the important role our land-grant research universities play in developing techniques to help feed a hungry world, the historic observance of the traditions of Thanksgiving and the continuing importance of agriculture in our nation’s economy," according to the National Turkey Federation's presidential turkey website.
Elsewhere in the United States, residents will eat an estimated 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving, CNN reported.