"I hereby pardon Courage so he can live out his days in peace and tranquility" in Disneyland, where the bird also will serve as grand marshal Thursday in the Orlando, Fla., theme park's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Obama said he was showing mercy to the 45-pound bird at the behest of first daughters Sasha and Malia because "I was planning to eat this sucker." He said he and first lady Michelle Obama would take two turkeys to Martha's Table, which provides meals for the Washington-area homeless.
Obama said he was thankful to serve the American people as president and as commander in chief, and wished U.S. troops and their families a happy Thanksgiving Day. Times of war and bad economic conditions, such as the United States is experiencing, make remembering reasons to be thankful "resonate more powerfully," Obama said.
At Martha's Table, the first family, including Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, handed out turkeys, pumpkin pies, vegetables, stuffing and other Thanksgiving groceries.
The White House press office said members of the president's extended family and friends, already gathered at the White House for Thanksgiving, were handing out groceries elsewhere in the Martha's Table building a few blocks from the White House.
"Happy Thanksgiving, how are you," Obama said as he handed out groceries to needy recipients.
A White House spokesman said the food was donated by Poor Robert's charities, Sysco Distribution, the Mid-Atlantic Gleaning Network and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Pies were baked by volunteers from the National Cathedral, the spokesman said.