The turkey was chosen for a presidential pardon from a dozen finalists
Modesto: He strutted, he gobbled and he puffed up his feathers like his life depended on it. And it did.
Tom One walks free after being pardoned. Pic/AFP
The turkey’s outgoing personality and good looks helped spare him from the Thanksgiving plate. The bird, named Tom One, was chosen for a presidential pardon from a dozen finalists on Thursday at a Northern California farm.
The bird will board a flight called Turkey One in San Francisco to head to the White House ceremony with President Barack Obama ahead of the holiday. After that, he will be sent to live at a farm in Virginia.
Picking the lucky gobbler wasn’t easy. He was among a dozen birds vying for the pardon at a Foster Farms ranch in Modesto, California, where class of fifth-grade students cheered on the show.
“I think that bird is going to be lucky for the rest of his life, man,” said Angel Avila, a 10-year-old student at Eisenhut Elementary in Modesto.
As the students watched and shouted for their pick, Foster Farms manager Joe Hedden and his team inspected the birds. They put each on a stand and ran their hands over the feathers, body and head.
They let each walk around and waited for something to catch their attention.
“Turkey! Turkey!” the students chanted as judges picked the best bird.
Tom One was a clear winner, putting on a show by strutting his stuff: He puffed up his bright-white feathers and gobbled. Above all, personality won the day, Hedden said.
“We want to present the president with a well-mannered and socially skilled turkey that’s going to act right on the big day,” he said.
The first turkey was officially granted a presidential pardon in 1989 by President George H W Bush, starting an annual holiday tradition.