Pampered Turkeys Rest Up in Pricey Hotel Before Presidential Pardon

Well mannered, well groomed and well behaved for President Obama.

November 25, 2014, 4:23 PM
PHOTO: President Barack Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey, "Popcorn,"
President Barack Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey, "Popcorn," with his daughters Sasha and Malia during an event at the White House in Washington, Nov. 27, 2013.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

— -- They're well bred, blow dried, and on their best behavior. Thousands of them compete every year. But only one will be pardoned by the President of the United States.

The National Thanksgiving Turkey is chosen "based on looks and behavior, kind of like a beauty pageant," said a spokeswoman for Cooper Farms, where this year's bird was hatched and raised.

One will be pardoned by President Obama and crowned National Thanksgiving Turkey at the White House ceremony on Wednesday. An alternate turkey will serve as runner-up, should the pardoned turkey be unable to fulfill his duties.

It’s been a long journey for the 50-pound birds. On Monday, they embarked on a nine-hour road trip from Fort Recovery, Ohio, to Washington, D.C., gobbling along to Kenny Chesney.

Since their arrival, the turkeys are being pampered at the Willard Hotel, staying in a custom room with tarps and shavings.

“Last night, they were trying to order room service,” National Turkey Federation Chairman Gary Cooper joked.

The chairman is responsible for raising the presidential turkey flock each year. Cooper said he began raising 66 birds in July with his son Cole.

This won’t be the Cooper family's first pardoning ceremony. In 1996, another one of the family’s turkeys was ceremonially spared by President Bill Clinton.

Following Wednesday's ceremony, the two will be taken to the lush, 1,000-acre Morven Park in Virginia to retire.

But not all turkeys get off scot-free.

Despite the pardoning ceremony, turkey is still on the first family’s Thanksgiving menu. The only thing that is clear is that neither of the turkeys from Cooper Farms will be part of the feast.

Where the Obamas get the turkey that ends up on their plates remains a mystery.

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