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Biden Observes White House Tradition of Pardoning Turkeys on His 81st Birthday

President Biden is spending part of his 81st birthday observing the White House tradition of pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys.

The gobblers receiving executive clemency at a ceremony Monday are named Liberty and Bell.

The 20-week-old, 42-pound birds were hatched and bred in Willmar, Minnesota, by the Jennie-O turkey company for the occasion.

Presidents have spared turkeys off and on as far back as the Lincoln era, but the first official pardon was granted by President George H.W. Bush in 1989.

The event is usually an opportunity for droll commentary by the president and the kind of inside detail that the White House rarely shares with reporters.

When former President Donald Trump was in the White House he made impeachment jokes while pardoning the holiday bird.

While pardoning two turkeys in 2006, former President George W. Bush made light of the situation the birds have found themselves in.

“It’s a fine looking bird isn’t it? Flyer is probably wondering where he’s going to wind up tomorrow. He’s probably thinking he’s going to end up on somebody’s table. Well. I’m happy to report that he and Fryer both have many tomorrows ahead of them,” Bush said.

The turkey pardon ceremony marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Washington, setting in motion a flurry of events as 2023 comes to a close.

It will be an especially busy day for this White House.

In addition to celebrating the president’s birthday, Jill Biden also welcomes delivery of an 18½-foot Fraser fir from North Carolina as the official White House Christmas tree.

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