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The History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in hopes of bringing a divided nation together. Most of us associate Thanksgiving with food and football, but there is another beloved annual tradition…the turkey pardon. Each year the president of the United States selects a turkey to “pardon”, thus allowing that turkey to live the remainder of his life on a spacious farm. While you may be aware of this annual tradition, you might not be familiar with how it all began. Farmers in the 1800s would send turkeys to the White House each year hoping to have their turkey selected as the one that would provide the meal for the president and his family. In 1947, the National Turkey Federation became the official supplier of the turkey for the president. In the 1960s, President Kennedy called for a turkey to be spared ironically just a few days before his own assassination. President Nixon sent each of the turkeys he received to nearby petting zoos. It was not until 1989 when President George H. W. Bush made the first official pardon and sent that turkey to Virginia to live out the rest of its life. Since then, every President has held an annual pardoning ceremony, with one lucky turkey being spared each year. In 2005, the pardoned turkey began making its way to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, where those lucky turkeys live as part of a petting zoo exhibit in Frontierland.

As you enjoy the Thanksgiving traditions with your friends and family this year, your friends at Spencer Air Conditioning and Heating want to wish you a very Happy and blessed Thanksgiving.