WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama held a light-hearted event Wednesday at the White House to pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey,also known as Cobbler.
“So in the spirit of the season,I have one more gift to give,and it goes to a pair of turkeys named Cobbler and Gobbler. The American people have spoken,and these birds are moving forward,” the president said.
The president’s daughters,Sasha and Malia,accompanied him at the Rose Garden event,and Sasha patted the turkey after her dad granted it a presidential pardon. Malia declined to follow suit.
The president took the occasion to remember those who went through Hurricane Sandy.
“In the last few weeks,I had a chance to visit both New Jersey and New York. And while I’ve seen entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble and heartbreaking loss and devastation,I have yet to find a broken spirit,” Obama said.
At the end of the event,Cobbler was granted the pardon,“Congratulations,Cobbler. You have a great life.”
Cobbler’s wasn’t the only life spared. His backup,Gobbler,was also pardoned. Both are both 19-week-old,40-pound turkeys.
The names of the turkeys were chosen from submissions from elementary schools in Rockingham County,Va.,where the turkeys were raised.
Americans decided which of the two turkeys would be named the national Thanksgiving turkey through the White House Facebook page. Cobbler beat Gobbler by almost 300 votes and won the national spotlight.
Animal rights activists weren’t big fans of this event. Ingrid E. Newkirk,president of PETA,fired off a letter to the president asking him to skip an event that makes light of the slaughter of millions of birds.
Newkirk also suggested that the first family should set a green example by choosing a vegan alterative to the Thanksgiving turkey.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is a large animal rights organization,with more than 3 million members and supporters.
Just across the street from the White House,PETA was giving away free vegan roasts to encourage people to celebrate a meat-free holiday.
That seems unlikely. After the event,the president and his family delivered turkeys to the Capital Area Food Bank,where they helped pack dinners for needy families. The Obama’s menu for this year’s feast wasn’t available Wednesday,but turkey has been on the menu in past years.
Volunteers dressed as turkeys held signs saying,“Pardon all the turkeys” and “Drop the drumstick: Eat vegan.”
Cobbler and Gobbler were on their way to Mount Vernon after their White House appearance. They will be part of a colonial farming exhibit.
The White House blog says some reports date the turkey pardon tradition to the days of President Lincoln. But President George H.W. Bush was the first to actually offer a turkey pardon. On Nov. 14,1989,he announced that year’s bird had “been granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”
Reach reporter Monica Ibrahim at [email protected] or 202-326-9861. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.