Thanksgiving is less than a week away. However, with the pandemic resurgence hitting record numbers, and the CDC urging everyone to restrict holiday gatherings to only the people in your own home, most Americans are ready to throw in the towel on Turkey Day — and all the traditions that go along with it.
In the midst of all this chaos, however, one Thanksgiving tradition will stand: The White House Turkey Pardon! Although the details of the event haven’t been formally released to the public, a White House official confirmed to The Hill that the annual event will take place on Tuesday, November 24, in front of a much smaller, socially-distanced audience. In addition to requiring masks for anyone in attendance, which is a deviation from the usual White House protocol, anyone who will come in close contact with President Trump will be tested before the event.
As CNN notes, continuing with the annual turkey pardon “is somehow both comforting and unsettling,” as the US recorded more than 1 million COVID-19 cases over the last week, and nearly 250,000 deaths, according to the most recent numbers by the CDC. The lighthearted event will also be the first time the American people will see the President in an official capacity in 11 days; hopefully his presence and willingness to continue with the nostalgic tradition will offer some solace to an otherwise frazzled nation.
The National Turkey Pardon tradition started in 1989 under President George H.W. Bush
According to USA Today, turkeys have been gifted to US presidents as early as the 1870s. However, the tradition of formally pardoning a turkey didn’t start until 1989. That’s when, instead of heading to the White House Thanksgiving table, the gifted turkey presented to President George H.W. Bush was pardoned, sparking the tradition that continues today.
This year’s lucky bird hails from Iowa, raised by Ron and Susie Kardel of Walcott. They will actually be sending two lucky turkeys to Washington: one will be named the official Thanksgiving Turkey, and the second will serve as an alternate. After the official pardon, both birds will live out their days at Iowa State University’s animal science farms, where the public can visit the famous fowl starting December 5th.
On its official website, The White House usually allows the public to vote for their favorite bird from the two sent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but the page hasn’t been updated to reflect this year’s event yet. Be sure to keep your eye out because it could be a fun family activity for a holiday which is decidedly different, and for many, a lot more somber than years past.
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