Pardoned Thanksgiving Turkey
VIP Turkey Selected for White House Pardon
Having a summer birthday is a turkey's first lucky break: In July, the National Turkey Federation chairman randomly takes 25 newly hatched turkeys out of regular production (where they would be prepped for supermarket shelves) and sends them to a VIP barn instead. There,the birds are groomed for the White House pardoning ceremony and a Thanksgiving parade at Disneyland.
Pardoned Turkeys Go Through Rigorous Training
The birds go through rigorous training so they won't spook easily. Farm handlers pick them up to simulate placing the bird on the pardoning table. Last year, the turkeys toured schools so they'd get used to crowds.
VIP Turkeys Listen to Parade Music Around Clock
A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, Disneyland mails the Turkey Federation chairman a CD of the music that will be played at the parade. He plays the music around the clock in the barn (this year it's in Modesto, CA) so the birds get accustomed to the loud sounds they'll hear.
Most Handsome Turkey Chosen for Pardoning Ceremony
After months of preparation, the turkeys stand before the chairman, who handpicks the most obedient and handsome bird to attend the ceremony. The chairman also chooses a backup in case Turkey No. 1 gets stage fright, and he helps select names for the birds (last year's names were Courage and Carolina). Turkeys who don't make the cut go to local charities.
Only First Class Comforts for Pardoned Turkeys
A few days before Thanksgiving, the two lucky birds travel in animal carriers lined with fake grass to Washington, D.C., where the Turkey Federation puts them up for the night in the swanky Willard InterContinental hotel. The main foyer of their first--floor suite is lined with wood chips for their comfort.
Turkeys are Pardoned by President in Ceremony
The day before Thanksgiving, the turkeys head to the White House for the ceremony, a tradition dating back to President Truman.
Paparazzi Takes Photo Ops at White House Ceremony
After passing through Secret Service checkpoints, Turkey No. 1 receives a pardon from President Obama and poses for photo ops. Turkey No. 2 is close by, ready to step in at a moment's notice.
Pardoned Turkeys Get VIP Treatment on Flight
Their lives spared (Turkey No. 2 gets an unofficial pardon), both turkeys fly first class (Disney foots the bill) on United Turkey One, a commercial United Airlines plane, to Disneyland in Southern California. Passengers in coach can come visit the birds during the flight.
Pardoned Turkey is Grand Marshall in Disney Parade
At Disneyland, the pardoned turkey rides on a float as the Honorary Grand Marshal in the Thanksgiving Parade.
Pardoned Turkeys Live Out Days in Frontierland
After the festivities, both turkeys retire to Big Thunder Ranch in Disneyland's Frontierland, where they live out the rest of their days.