Modesto, California Turkey Flies From SFO to Washington on Turkey One to Get Presidential Pardon

A Modesto, California, turkey clucked quietly in a cage on Monday at San Francisco International Airport, surrounded by guards in shades and suits, on its way to the White House to get pardoned.

After President Obama pardons the turkey at an annual ceremony in the Rose Garden, just a day ahead of Thanksgiving, the bird will be sent to a live farm in Virginia. Tom One, as he's been unoffcially nicknamed, also flew with a backup turkey, Tom Two, just in case. Children at the White House will formally name him on Wednesday.

Lest any taxpayers worry that actual Secret Service agents were being paid to oversee the turkeys' safe travel, rest assured, the guards are actors paid for by the National Turkey Federation.

The bird is a Nicholas White breed, and owned by a West Virginia company, Aviagen. The turkey was raised by Foster Farms in Modesto. Jihad Douglas, is chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and he is also president of Aviagen.

Tom One was chosen for a presidential pardon from 20 finalists last week at the "Presidential Turkey Ranch," in Sonoma Valley, as a class of fifth-grade students cheered on the show. Tom One was the clear winner, as he puffed out his feathers, gobbled and wowed the kids with his personality.

"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 said at the time.

The first turkey was officially granted a presidential pardon in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush, starting an annual holiday tradition.

Each year, the chairman of the National Turkey Federation is given the honor of raising the national Thanksgiving turkey. That chairman usually picks a turkey from his or her home state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Us