WASHINGTON — It’s become part of the annual tradition of the White House Thanksgiving turkey ritual: Voting to see which of the two official birds will be pardoned, and which will be the alternate.
This year’s winner is “Drumstick,” who garnered 60 percent support over rival “Wishbone,” who earned 40 percent.
And so it was Drumstick who Tuesday afternoon in the White House Rose Garden received a presidential pardon from Donald Trump.
“Wow, big bird,” the president said as he approached the 36-pound turkey, petting it several times. “Drumstick, you are hereby pardoned.”
Trump was accompanied by his wife, Melania Trump, in an autumn patterned coat slung over her shoulders, and the couple’s 11-year-old son, Barron Trump, who wore a coat and tie for the occasion.
Before the actual pardoning, Trump stood for several minutes at the podium, revving up a few turkey-inspired quips, including a reference to the two turkeys pardoned last year by President Barack Obama, Tater and Tot.
“I’ve been very active in overturning a number of actions by my predecessor. However, I have been informed by the White House counsel’s office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot under any circumstances be revoked,” Trump said. “So Tater and Tot, you can rest easy.”
Drumstick and the alternate turkey, Wishbone, arrived with a lot of squawking over the weekend in Washington, resting in a swank room at The Willard Intercontinental Hotel, complete with twin beds and a floor covered in wood chips.
The hotel stay is paid for by the National Turkey Federation, which supplies two turkeys each year for the presidential pardoning ceremony at the White House.
Wishbone and Drumstick were raised on a Minnesota turkey farm, and though Drumstick won the online White House poll, in actuality, both will go on to live at “Gobbler’s Rest,” on the campus of Virginia Tech, where other pardoned birds have resided.
The White House also established two short bios on each turkey — for instance, one’s into classic rock, one prefers country music.
As for “strut style,” Drumstick does his thing “tall and proud” and Wishbone’s more of a “strong shuffle.”
There’s one in every bunch or pack or flock or gaggle — or whatever you call a grouping of turkeys.