President Donald Trump, just prior to beginning his Thanksgiving vacation on Tuesday, carried out a final pre-holiday executive action — pardoning a turkey.
“Drumstick, you are hereby pardoned,” the president declared in the White House Rose Garden, with his wife, Melania, and their 11-year-old son, Barron, alongside.
The turkey, with a 152-centimeter (60-inch) wingspan and weighing 21 kilograms (46 pounds), gobbled when a small child cried, but otherwise remained impassive.
Drumstick bested another bird, Wishbone, in a public pool to determine which turkey would receive executive dispensation.
Drumstick captured about 60 percent of the more than 40,000 votes in a Twitter poll conducted by the White House.
Both birds arrived from the state of Minnesota and received V-I-P — or rather V-I-T — treatment in the nation’s capital, posing in their luxury hotel suite and appearing at a news conference hosted by the National Turkey Federation.
For more than a century, turkeys have been ceremoniously delivered to the White House prior to Thanksgiving — although most years they were intended as the main course for the holiday feast.
But John F. Kennedy in 1963 uttered, “We’ll just let this one grow,” when presented with a big bird that had a sign around its neck reading “Good Eating Mr. President.”
Subsequently, there were sporadic turkey pardons until President George H.W. Bush made it an annual event in 1989.
Barack Obama, in his final Thanksgiving pardon, last year spared two birds — Tater and Tot — as his successor noted at Tuesday’s ceremony.
“As many of you know, I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor,” said Trump. “However, I have been informed by the White House counsel’s office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked. So, we’re not going to revoke them. So, Tater and Tot, you can rest easy.”
While Drumstick received the presidential pardon, fans of Wishbone should fear not. The other bird will also live out its days at Gobbler’s Rest at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, the home of previously pardoned turkeys.