Pardoning Turkeys, Trimming Trees at the White House

Obamas start their holiday traditions

By Jim Iovino
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 8:10 PM EDT
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The holidays are in full swing this week at the White House, and the Obamas will take their first shot at several presidential traditions.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama will pardon a turkey in the Rose Garden, a tradition that goes back several decades.

When informing the media about the event, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had one request: "No questions for the turkey." No one from the press corps had the guts to ask the obvious follow-up: "But can we ask the bird a question?" Hey-o!

Anyway, the Rose Garden is a safe haven for our delicious feathered friend, unlike the pardoning location Sarah Palin picked last year for her photo op. We all remember how well that went for Alaska's version of Tom Turkey.

Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama will get into the holiday spirit the day after Thanksgiving when she accepts the official White House Christmas Tree.

The Douglas fir was planted in 1996 in Shepherdstown, W. Va., and grew to 18.5 feet tall. It will arrive at the North Portico via a traditional horse-drawn carriage and will be on display in the Blue Room throughout the holidays.

The tree was picked by White House Chief Usher Stephen Rochon and Superintendent of Grounds Dale Haney in October at the farm owned by Eric and Gloria Sundback. The Sundbacks will be on hand to present the tree to the first lady -- their fourth time doing so. Read more about the Sundbacks and their D.C.-area ties by clicking here.

The Capitol Christmas Tree is currently en route to the District from Arizona. As of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the tree was in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.  The 85-foot Blue Spruce is expected to be delivered to Congress on Nov. 30. The annual lighting ceremony will be held Dec. 8.

Track the route of the tree yourself at TrackTheTree.com.

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