4 weeks ago
Pardon me, but these two birds are lucky ducks.
On Wednesday, a pair of South Dakota-raised turkeys were officially chosen to go to the White House for the decades-old pre-Thanksgiving presidential pardon that will save them from the chopping block.
Some 46 million other turkeys served on the food-happy holiday won’t be so fortunate.
“We are excited,” turkey grower Jeff Sveen, of Dakota Provisions and Riverside Colony, told RealClearLife. “We will have a small parade (today) and will visit schools.”
Besides practicing law, Sveen, a lifelong South Dakotan, is the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. In keeping with tradition, federation chairs raise the presidential flock each year in their home state.
It’s the first time that turkeys from South Dakota have been chosen for the pardon that reaches back to 1989.
The flock originated with 50 birds. Since they were born in July, the birds have gobbled antibiotic-free soybean meal and the field has narrowed down to the final two.
The chosen toms now tip the scales at about 42 pounds each.
“We were looking for birds that are friendly and get along with people and dogs and have good plumage and great tail feathers,” said Sveen.
For the local parade, the fine-feathered celebs will ride on a flatbed truck. Later this week, they’ll be driven to Washington, D.C. for the pardon expected to take place on Nov. 20. They’ll rest in style at the Willard InterContinental hotel in D.C. in advance of the pardon ceremonies.
As of now, the turkeys don’t have official names, said Sveen. “The White House (chooses) those.”
After the pardon, the turkeys will live out their days – around 18 to 24 months – at a special home built in 2016 called Gobbler’s Rest at Virginia Tech.
Previous occupants – Tater and Tot, pardoned by Barack Obama, and Wishbone and Drumstick, pardoned by Donald Trump – have gone to the great turkey farm in the sky.
“Our turkeys live like kings,” said Sveen, who attended last year’s ceremony as a guest of the 2017 chairman. “I babysat the turkeys at the hotel and saw the Rose Garden.”
This year, he hopes to get inside the White House. “Last year, (the chairman) went into the Oval Office. I’m excited about that. It’s where history is made.”