It happened again this year.
“A longstanding Thanksgiving tradition and that’s the Iowa Turkey Federation annual turkey pardoning,” Governor Kim Reynolds announced late this morning.
Two male turkeys and about two dozen humans gathered outside the governor’s mansion in Des Moines for the event.
“These two ‘Toms’ that are behind us right here — and their colors are great! — were named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, who recognized the importance of turkeys to our society early in our nation’s history,” Reynolds said.
Franklin was not a fan of the bald eagle as the national symbol and wrote a letter to his daughter in 1784 extolling the virtues of turkeys. Benjamin and Franklin literally ruffled their own feathers on windy Terrace Hill lawn this morning as Iowa Turkey Federation president Lynn Schable talked about their trip.
“They are about 20 weeks old and this morning they came from Storm Lake, Iowa,” she said, “so they’ve had a pretty big day.”
The two Tom turkeys are among the 12 million turkeys that will be raised in Iowa this year. Most turkey processed in the state is sliced and goes to the deli counter for sandwiches. The governor has given Benjamin and Franklin what appears to be a temporary reprieve from a similar fate.
“They are free to roam on Thanksgiving Day,” Reynolds said.
The birds eventually responded with a few gobbles. One of the turkeys gave the governor a very strong nudge as both turkeys were swarmed for a photo session.