The Happiest Turkeys on Earth

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According to D23:

“Courage,” the National Thanksgiving Turkey, received his presidential pardon from President Barack Obama today at the White House’s Rose Garden. “Now, today I’m pleased to announce that, thanks to the interventions of Malia and Sasha — because I was planning to eat this sucker! — Courage will be spared this terrible and delicious fate,” the president laughed during the ceremony. “Later today, he’ll head to Disneyland, where he’ll be grand marshal of tomorrow’s parade. And just in case Courage can’t fulfil his responsibilities, Walter [National Turkey Federation Chairman Walter Pelletier] brought along another turkey, Carolina, as an alternate, the stand-in.”

After receiving his presidential pardon from President Barack Obama today, Courage — and Carolina — will be transferred to Dulles International Airport. Then they will “fly” on United Airlines Flight “Turkey-1” to their new home at Disneyland Resort in Southern California.

The trip from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles will mark the fifth consecutive year that the National Thanksgiving Turkey has celebrated his pardon at a Disney resort. Accompanied by Pelletier, of Butterball LLC, Courage, a 20-week-old, 45-pound tom turkey, will be the honorary grand marshal in the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” Thanksgiving parade down Main Street, U.S.A. Following Thursday’s parade, Courage and Carolina will find a home at Santa’s Reindeer Round-Up at Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland, where they’ll remain throughout the holidays and the rest of their lives.

Joining Courage and Carolina in the Disneyland Park parade on Thanksgiving Day will be 200 volunteers who, as part of National Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, Nov. 21, packed 20,000 boxes of food for Thanksgiving for those in need. Marching behind a Thanksgiving banner, the volunteers are being celebrated for their spirit of community service, the focus of Disney Parks’ “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program in 2010. Disney Parks hopes to inspire 1 million people to perform a day of volunteer service for a participating organization by giving them a free one-day admission ticket to a Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort theme park.

“It is a tremendous honor to represent the turkey industry at the White House and to continue this 62-year-old tradition,” said Pelletier. “Like all Americans, the men and women of our industry faced a very challenging year economically, so it will be gratifying to be at the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation and then participate in Disney’s Thanksgiving event to reflect on the true meaning of Thanksgiving and the holiday season.” Added Captain Bob Hart of United Turkey-1: “Flying from coast to coast is a 2,288-mile journey and would be exhausting for a turkey. United is going to make sure that this flight is the most enjoyable and smooth cross-country journey these birds will ever take and a memorable experience for all customers onboard.”

U.S. President Harry S Truman was the first commander-in-chief to be presented with a Thanksgiving turkey (in 1947) by the National Turkey Federation. This year’s presentation marks the 62nd anniversary of a tradition that has continued through 11 successive White House administrations. The 2009 National Thanksgiving Turkey was raised under Chairman Pelletier’s supervision on a farm in Goldsboro, N.C.

UPDATE: Here’s a video from the Disney Parks Blog showing President Obama pardoning Courage and Carolina at the White House, as well the two turkeys boarding Turkey-1:

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]