President to pardon two Monroe turkeys for Thanksgiving

Fall isn’t a great time to be a turkey, with Thanksgiving around the corner and Christmas just over the horizon.
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:23 PM EST
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MONROE, N.C. (WBTV) - Many people are looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday, and in a strange way, so might a couple of local Tom turkeys in Monroe. Circle “S” Farms has been selected to present two of their prized birds to the White House for an official Presidential pardon. A tradition that’s been going on since 1947.

Fall isn’t a great time to be a turkey, with Thanksgiving around the corner and Christmas just over the horizon. But for a couple of turkeys, they won’t be heading for the dinner table, they’ll be headed for the history books.

“One of the privileges of the president of the national turkey federation is to be able to present a couple of turkeys to the President in the White House.” said Ronnie Parker, general manager at Circle “S” Ranch.

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Two of these Tom turkeys have been selected to be pardoned by President Joe Biden. A tradition that’s been around for a long time.

“The first pardon was done by Herbert Walker Bush, I think it was back in 1989,” Parker recalled.

There are 30 turkeys selected to be part of the Presidential flock, but only the top two can make the trip. Think of it as a beauty contest for turkeys.

“We won’t get into beauties for Tom turkeys,” Parker said as he laughed.

The top two will be loaded into a van this weekend and head north towards Washington, with an overnight stopover to make sure they’re well-rested with royal treatment.

“A red carpet will be rolled out for them to usher them into the motel, and they’ll have their own motel room to spend the weekend before they go to the White House on Monday,” Parker explained.

Better than most people’s vacation plans. After their pardon, they’ll be brought back home and taken to a place you may not have ever heard of before.

“They get to go live out their life at a turkey resort.”

This isn’t your typical Air B and B, but it’s not bad digs for these birds.

“We have chosen NC State in Raleigh for them to go back to.” Parker told WBTV’s Ron Lee.

And with turkey prices skyrocketing for shoppers up twenty percent over last year, these birds are more like lucky ducks.

“About thirty-five to forty-million go to the Thanksgiving table,” Parker said.

When you’re actually talking about naming these turkeys, the farm has got ideas, and they have suggestions, but the honor is always left to the President of the United States, and some of the turkeys in the past have had some very creative names. Last year they were known as “peanut” and “butter”.