On Monday, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper was at the White House as two turkeys got the annual presidential pardon.
President Joe Biden, Gov. and Mrs. Cooper, and Rep. Dan Bishop, R-9th District, were on hand as two turkeys, Chocolate and Chip, shook a tailfeather in the Rose Garden. The birds weigh 46 pounds and 47 pounds, respectively, and were raised by National Turkey Federation chairman Ronnie Parker of Circle S Ranch in Monroe. North Carolina produces about 30 million turkeys per year, the second highest of any state in the nation, behind Minnesota.
“Ronnie’s got 44 years in the turkey business, and he’s the grower of our honored guests today,” said Biden.
“We are joined by another special guest, and that is for what is the largest turkey presentation at the White House, my dear friends … Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper here, truly fantastic people, say hi,” Biden added.
Chocolate and Chip will now reside at N.C. State University in Raleigh, home of one the nation’s leading poultry science programs.
The tradition of waiving a turkey’s dinnertime destination started with President John F. Kennedy. However, a 1965 news story indicates that President Lincoln gave a reprieve to a Christmas turkey.
“[A] live turkey had been brought home for the Christmas dinner, but [Lincoln’s son Tad] interceded in behalf of its life. … [Tad’s] plea was admitted and the turkey’s life spared,” reporter Noah Brooks wrote.
The current tradition of holding a ceremony and sending the donated turkey to live on a local farm was started under former President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Then, in 1989, President Bush coined the “presidential pardon” term for the turkey.
“But let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy — he’s presented a presidential pardon as of right now — and allow him to live out his days on a children’s farm not far from here,” said Bush. It has been an annual tradition ever since.
After Monday’s White House ceremony, the Coopers, Biden, and First Lady Jill Biden were scheduled to go to U.S. Marine Corps Station Cherry Point in North Carolina for a “Friendsgiving” dinner with troops and their families.
‘The votes are in, they’ve been counted and verified, there’s been no ballot stuffing and no ‘fowl’ play. The only red wave this year will be if my German shepherd Commander knocks over the cranberry sauce on our table,” Biden told the White House crowd.