Presidential Turkey Pardoning Through the Years

Since JFK first "pardoned" a turkey on Nov. 19, 1963, U.S. presidents have kept up the annual White House tradition, granting last-minute reprieves for 1 or 2 lucky birds before Thanksgiving.

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President John F. Kennedy reaches out to touch a big, 40-pound turkey, presented to him Nov. 19, 1963, at the White House. the presentation was made on behalf of the nation's turkey industry. Attending the ceremony, from left: Mildred Smith of Ellicott City, Md., wife of turkey farmer Morris G. Smith; Robert M. McPherrin, Sunnymead, Calif., president of the National Turkey Federation; and Senator Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.). (AP Photo/Harvey Georges)
President John F. Kennedy was the first president to pardon a turkey in 1963. Here, he is shown with the first pardoned bird. Originally, the plan was just part of a Thanksgiving presentation but Kennedy decided that the bird should live and, thus, spawned a tradition.
The 1984 bird was a lively one. Here, President Ronald Reagan is shown protecting himself from flying feathers as the 53 pound bird flapped his wings. The bird was named R.J., short for "Robust and Juicy."
Vice president Richard Nixon, "shakes hands" with a 40-pound bird in 1955.
President Ronald Reagan, with Peter Hermanson, president of the National Turkey Federation, took part in the annual White House Thanksgiving turkey presentation on Friday, Nov. 19, 1988 The gobbler, named Woody, was from from Iowa.
President George H.W. Bush is shown here as he pardoned a turkey in 1992. The ceremony is usually performed in the White House's Rose Garden.
President Bill Clinton was accompanied by nine-year-old Shawn Arbogast to pardon the annual turkey in 1994. The bird, Tom, spent the rest of his life living in Flying Pan Park in Chantilly, Va.
In 1996, Carl the turkey, wore a White House visitor's badge during his presidential pardon. He was pardoned by Bill Clinton and sent to live in a Virginia petting farm.
The bird that was pardoned in 1998, roams the White House lawn while Clinton prepared to speak to the crowd.
Marshmallow was pardoned by President George W. Bush in 2005. After the ceremony, he was flown to California where he served as an honorary marshal in Disneyland's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Bush pardoned Flyer in 2006. Here, he is shown petting the bird before the start of the annual ceremony.
President George W. Bush pardoned his final turkey, Pumpkin, on Nov. 26, 2008.
President Obama (right) pardoned the turkey Courage in 2009. Here, the president is shown speaking to the ceremony onlookers.
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Obama has long made the turkey pardoning a family affair. To date, he has never done the ceremony without his daughters by his side. Here he is shown pardoning 'Liberty', a 19-week old, 45-pound turkey on Nov. 23, 2011.
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President Obama was accompanied by his daughters, Sasha and Malia,for the 2012 Pardon. Cobbler was named the "National Thanksgiving Turkey" in 2012.
President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha and Malia, carries on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving the national turkey, Popcorn, from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, as John Burkel, current chairman of the National Turkey Federation in Badger, Minn, stands left. After the pardoning, Popcorn travels to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens where he will be on display for visitors during "Christmas at Mount Vernon."
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US President Barack Obama prepares to "pardon" the National Thanksgiving Turkey in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 25, 2015.
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Tater and Tot, the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate, are shown to members of the media during a press conference held by the National Turkey Federation Nov. 22, 2016, at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC. The two turkeys will both be "pardoned" following the presentation of the national turkey to U.S. President Barack Obama scheduled for tomorrow.
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Tater and Tot, the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate, at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, Nov. 22, 2016.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
President Barack Obama, joined by his nephews Aaron and Austin Robinson, pardons his last turkey, Tot, on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016.
White House/Instagram
Drumstick and Wishbone, the turkeys President Donald Trump pardoned in 2017, are seen at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington D.C. ahead of their introduction at the Rose Garden on Nov. 20, 2017.
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