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Pardon me: 2 Minnesota turkeys headed to White House


If you've ever prepared a Thanksgiving dinner, you know just how much preparation goes into the holiday feast.

But you may not know how much preparation goes into readying the bird that does NOT become a Turkey Day meal.

This year, two turkeys from the John Burkel family farm in Badger, in northwest Minnesota, are heading to the White House for the annual pardoning ceremony, Forum Communications reports.

The family has narrowed a field of contenders to six, but only two birds will make the trip for the Nov. 27 event (including an "alternate"), Forum reports.

The birds have been through training for their big moment in the spotlight – the family has been handling them to get them used to being held by humans. The family has even been preparing the birds for music. "They’ve been listening to Vivaldi and John Mayer intermittently pretty much all summer,” John Burkel told Forum.

After the ceremony, both birds will go to George Washington's historic Mount Vernon estate farm to live our their lives in quiet.

The odd White House tradition dates to the 19th century, although turkeys have not always been pardoned; many presidents have eaten the birds, the White House notes. One story suggests that the pardoning first dates to Lincoln's administration, when the president's son Tad begged his father to write out a presidential pardon for the bird meant for the family’s Christmas table, according to the White House.

"I'm told Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson actually ate their turkeys," Obama said in 2009. "You can't fault them for that; that's a good-looking bird."

Turkeys for the ceremony have come from a variety of states over the years. President Obama pardoned a 45-pound bird named Liberty from Willmar, Minn., in 2011. President George W. Bush pardoned a 40-pounder named Marshmallow from Henning, Minn., in 2005.

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