National Turkey Federation Chairman John Burkel of Badger, Minn., presented President Obama with the National Thanksgiving Turkey, Popcorn, and his alternate Caramel, in a ceremony on the North Portico of the White House. The ceremony marks the 66th anniversary of the time-honored tradition.
During the presentation, President Obama quipped: "With the power vested in me I grant Popcorn full reprieve from a future of stuffing and cranberry sauce."
Burkel, wife Joni, and five children raised and selected the turkeys, the names for which were suggested by school children through the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.
“This is a quintessentially American holiday, and during this time we give thanks to our friends and our family, for citizens who show compassion to those in need, and for neighbors who help strangers they’ve never met. We give thanks for the blessings of freedom and opportunity that previous generations worked so hard to secure for. And we give thanks for the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform who serve our nation around the world,” said President Obama.
“My family came to appreciate that raising the National Thanksgiving Turkey for this presentation is an opportunity for Americans to reflect on the season as a thoughtful and thankful country,” said Burkel. “Sharing in the tradition of Thanksgiving, the president has reminded us of the blessings of a good harvest, and the capacity for greatness and goodness in our nation.”
Burkel is a member of Northern, Pride, Inc., and its 25 grower-owned turkey processors in Thief River Falls, Minn. Hybrid Turkeys, represented by Peter Gruhl, provided the newly-hatched poults, born this summer.
Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pa., gave the president’s family two dressed turkeys as part of the First Family’s food donations in observance of Thanksgiving.
The night before the presentation, “Popcorn” and “Caramel” roomed at the Willard Hotel near the White House. Their permanent home is with Morven Park’s Turkey Hill at the historic turkey farm and home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922) in Leesburg, Va. Before settling at their Morven Park home, the turkeys have a traditional holiday stay at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate Museum and Garden until Jan. 6.