Pre-Pardoning, Turkeys Luxuriate at W Hotel - NBC4 Washington

Pre-Pardoning, Turkeys Luxuriate at W Hotel

The Turkey Who Lived



    Celebri-Turkey Specially Trained to Deal With Public

    The Minnesota native is accustomed to camera flashes and crowds, thanks to training from four high school students. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011)

    This year's pair of presidential turkeys aren't waiting for Wednesday's White House ceremony to live it up.

    Instead, the Minnesota natives are spending the day before their pardon relaxing at the luxe W Hotel in downtown D.C.

    On Tuesday afternoon, the designated celebri-turkey hobknobbed at POV, the W Hotel's rooftop bar overlooking the White House, while his alternate relaxed in their suite.

    "Our chef has prepared some special feed for them out of organic soy and cranberry, which they seem to enjoying quite a bit, " said Ed Baten, general manager of the W. "They have great views, looking out onto the National Mall, and get to be neighbors with the president -- and tomorrow they get to go meet him!"

    So how'd that particular would-be entrée become, instead, The Chosen One?

    Turns out it's all in the attitude: "You can see this turkey is quite regal -- calm, cool and collected. Knows when to fluff his feathers and show off a little bit," said Sherrie Rosenblatt of the National Turkey Federation.

    In other words, everyone loves a celebrity.

    The 21-week-old was indeed unfazed by the flashing cameras and milling crowd, thanks to a team of high school students who have trained him and his alternate to take it all in stride.

    "They were very nervous in the beginning -- they didn't want to be around us," said Brianna Hoover, 17, of Minnesota. She and three other members of Future Farmers of America spent several weeks hand-feeding the turkeys, playing cell phone ringtones and getting them used to flashing lights.

    "Once they started getting used to us... they were falling asleep in front of us, and they just got really calm," Hoover said.

    So is she going to feel a little weird about eating turkey this Thanksgiving? "Kinda," she admitted.

    On Tuesday night, the turkeys will be chilling in a custom suite -- with a fantastic view of the White House, of course -- where they'll also enjoy W Munchie Boxes filled with acorns, berries and corn.

    The 45-pounder and and his alternate (should the winner be unable to fulfill his duties) will both receive pardons from President Barack Obama Wednesday morning.

    One thing we're not sure of? How those turkeys managed to check into the W without identification. The as-yet-unnamed turkeys will have their names announced at the White House ceremony Wednesday. (Until the online poll closes, you can vote here.)

    After the big event, the turkeys will be on display for Christmas at Mount Vernon through Jan. 6. Then they'll cast away their stardom in favor of a cushy retirement at the estate... in a custom-built enclosure, of course.

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