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Every year, two turkeys manage to escape the Thanksgiving table thanks to a special pardoning granted by the President of the United States of America. This year was no exception! On Wednesday, November 26th, President Obama used his powers to free a 49-pound turkey named "Cheese" and a lucky spare named "Mac" and allowed them to trot off to Morven Park, in Leesburg, Virginia, where they will spend the rest of their lives in blissful retirement.
The fortunate toms that hatched on July 7th, are part of a Presidential flock chosen for their coloring, size and calm temperament, by Ohio-based Cooper Farms. According to farm owner Gary Cooper, Virgil and Homer (renamed Mac and Cheese by the first family), were selected because they were extremely comfortable around humans.
The duo were flown to Washington D.C. on Tuesday and housed in a comfortable room at the city's historic Willard Hotel, where they spent the night resting and feasting on acorns, berries and corn. Upon arrival at the White House at midday on Wednesday, Cheese was ushered to the famous lawn, where he stood proud and tall, as President Obama declared him the "National Thanksgiving Turkey", granting him and his sidekick Mac, full immunity from the dinner table.
Nobody is quite sure how this fun tradition began. While some believe that the turkey pardoning was started by President Truman, others think the tradition dates back even further and that it was Abraham Lincoln who let the first one go, after his 11-year-old son Tad, took a fancy to the bird. Regardless, the informal ritual continued for many years, with some of the so-called pardoned turkeys often ending up on the President's dinner tables.
A 'spare' turkey was added after one named Liberty escaped before it could be pardoned by President Ronald Reagan. In 1989, George H. W. Bush decided to formalize the pardoning and make it an annual White House ritual - one that is attended by family members, government officials and the news media.In 2012, President Obama added a fun twist by asking the nation to chose which of the two should be "America's Next Top Turkey", by voting on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
According to the officials, Mac who was described as a "feather shaker" with a melodious gobble and Cheese, as a "grand champion" with a romantic gobble, were neck-to-neck, almost until the voting ended at 1.00 pm EST. That's when Cheese managed to sneak past with a few last-minute votes. Not that it mattered to Mac, who was also spared and got to enjoy the festivities, without having to be on his best behavior!
While Mac and Cheese are headed to Leesburg, their predecessors have been fortunate enough spend their golden years at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and even Disneyland and Disney World! We wish Mac and Cheese a long and healthy life. As for the rest of the turkeys? All we can say is GOBBLE GOBBLE!
HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE THANKSGIVING!