President Barack Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey during the 68th annual ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Obama pardoned two turkeys, Abe and Honest, during the annual Thanksgiving tradition. Obama was joined by National Turkey Federation Chairman Jihad Douglas (C) and Joe Hedden of foster farms. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama took some time out of his busy schedule Wednesday for some light-hearted fun, as he formally pardoned two turkeys from the carving knife this Thanksgiving.
At a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, Obama excused the proclaimed national turkey, called Abe, and the "backup" bird, named "Honest." The names were chosen by school children in California.
The president's actions spare the birds from the dinner table tomorrow, a White House tradition since the 1800s. Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has been involved and has presented a bird to the president for pardoning.
Wednesday, Obama took part in this year's ceremony with his teen daughters, Sasha and Malia.
"Abe is now a free bird," he said. "He is TOTUS -- Turkey of the United States."
Abe and Honest will now live on 1,000 acres of open land, "complete with a barn called, 'the White House on Turkey Hill.'"
"I confess that Honest looks like good eating, but this is a democracy," Obama quipped.
Officials said both 22-inch turkeys, which weigh more than 40 pounds each, were born in July in Central California.
"I do enjoy this chance to wish America a happy Thanksgiving," Obama added. "So often the news of the day can make folks discouraged, but the fact is we live on the greatest country on Earth. And we are blessed in so many ways -- most of all because we have families and friends and people we care about."