At 2:00pm ET, President Obama will “pardon” the National Thanksgiving Turkey – and its designated backup — in the Rose Garden.
Cobbler and alternate Gobbler are each 19-week old, 40-pounders, raised at the farm of Craig and Nancy Miller, near Harrisonburg, Virginia, with the supervision of National Turkey Federation chairman Steve Willardsen, in partnership with the Virginia Poultry Federation.
The turkey’s names were chosen by students from elementary schools in Rockingham County, VA, from whence the birds hail. For the first time ever, the American public – working through the White House Facebook page — decided whether Cobbler or Gobbler would be selected the 2012 National Thanksgiving Turkey. After this afternoon’s event, Cobbler and Gobbler will head across the river to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, where they will be on display through January 6, 2013, for the “Christmas at Mount Vernon” program. They will then live out the remainder of their days in a custom-made enclosure at a livestock facility on the grounds of the estate. This peculiar tradition of the “pardon” began in 1989. The donation of a turkey to the president began under Harry S Truman.
Here’s a story we did on this bizarre annual event in 2010 for World News.
Snood, by the way, is the “pendulous skin over the beak of a turkey,” according to one online definition.
And there is an important update to the 2010 story embedded above. PETA no longer supports the turkey pardon.
“It makes light of the mass slaughter of some 46 million gentle, intelligent birds and portrays the United States’ president as being in some sort of business partnership with the turkey-killing industry,” Newkirk wrote in a letter sent to President Obama Tuesday. “Turkeys do not need to be ‘pardoned’—they are not guilty of anything other than being born into a world of prejudice. They are innocents who should be respected for who they are: good mothers, smart birds, and interesting animals.”