This picture taken Nov. 19, 2015, in Modesto, Calif., shows a turkey selected for a pardon from the Thanksgiving dinner table by President Obama. A class of fifth grade students from nearby Eisenhut Elementary School cheered for their favorite as Foster Farms staffers picked the prized bird. (AP Photo/Scott Smith)
Turkey gets presidential pardon
November 24, 2015
He strutted. He gobbled. And he puffed up his feathers like his life depended on it. And it did.
The turkey's outgoing personality and good looks helped spare him from the Thanksgiving plate. The bird is named Tom One. It was chosen for a presidential pardon. It was picked from a dozen finalists at a Northern California farm.
The bird will board a flight called Turkey One in San Francisco. Then it will head to the White House ceremony with President Barack Obama. After that, he will be sent to live at a farm in Virginia.
Picking the lucky gobbler was not easy. He was among a dozen birds vying for the pardon at a Foster Farms ranch. It is in Modesto, California. A class of fifth-grade students was there and cheered on the show.
"I think that bird is going to be lucky for the rest of his life, man," said Angel Avila. She is a 10-year-old student at Eisenhut Elementary in Modesto.
The students watched and shouted for their pick. Foster Farms manager Joe Hedden and his team checked the birds. They put each on a stand. Then they 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 cheered as judges picked the best bird.
Tom One was a clear winner. He put 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 is going to act right on the big day," he said.
The first turkey was officially given a presidential pardon in 1989. It was granted by President George H.W. Bush. It started a yearly holiday tradition.
Foster Farms won the honor of providing this year's turkey. They chose the best one. They also chose a stand-in, called Tom Two.
Hundreds of students from throughout California sent in their ideas for names for the turkeys. They will be given their formal names at the White House.
Ira Brill is Foster Farms' director of communications. He said the pardoning ceremony shows a rare time when Americans come together.
"I think it is really an opportunity for any president - whatever his party - to reach out to the American public," Brill said. "This is one of the few days that we all share something in common."
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What were key criteria for the selection?
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