UPC's Holiday Commuter Campaign & White House Demo for Turkeys
- United Poultry Concerns - http://www.UPC-online.org/
29 November 2013
UPC's Holiday Commuter Campaign & White House Demo for Turkeys Urge People to
"Be Kind to Turkeys - Go Vegan!" in the Nation's Capital
From November 18 through December 15, sixty King-Size Bus Posters and 100 Metro
Rail Headliners are carrying our message through the Washington, DC Metro Area.
White House Demonstration for Turkeys
Regarding the turkey "pardoning" ceremony at the White House, the Arkansas
Democrat-Gazette noted that:
"While no protesters were present Wednesday, three activists with United Poultry
Concerns on a cold day earlier this month [Nov. 21] stood on the edge of the
park across the street from the White House and passed out fliers urging people
to 'discover a new tradition.' Their flier says domestic turkeys are fattened
rapidly, causing them to be lame and have underdeveloped organs.
A banner spread across the leaves in Lafayette Park asked, 'Why have a headless
turkey with dead wings and leg stumps for dinner?'"
Read article (subscription required):
Obama turkey pardon plays 'Free Bird' for 2
By Sarah D. Wire, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nov. 28, 2013
WASHINGTON - Standing just out of the sleet, beneath the White House's north
portico Wednesday, President Barack Obama cleared two turkeys for life on a
Virginia farm, rather than death on a dinner table.
"The office of the presidency, the most powerful position in the world, brings
with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities. This is not one of them," he
said. "But the White House turkey pardon is a great tradition."
Flanked by his daughters, Malia and Sasha, Obama granted "Popcorn" a
presidential pardon and also saved the bird's understudy "Caramel."
"Popcorn, you have a full reprieve from cranberry sauce and stuffing. We wish
you well," Obama said.
The White House turned the decision of which turkey to pardon over to the public
in what has become a new online tradition in the past decade. People were asked
to vote through social media including Facebook and Twitter for either
#TeamPopcorn or #TeamCaramel. Voting ended Tuesday evening.
"The competition was stiff, but we can officially declare that Popcorn is the
winner, proving that even a turkey with a funny name can find a place in
politics," Obama said. "As for Caramel, he's sticking around, and he's already
busy raising money for his next campaign."
Popcorn, weighing in at 37 pounds, 6 ounces, is described on the White House
website as having a "proud strut" and a "garbled" gobble with "longer notes." He
apparently likes corn and the song "Halo" by Beyonce.
He has blue coloring under each eye and is photographed with a long snood, the
fleshy bit that hangs down over the beak.
Caramel weighs in at 38 pounds, 4 ounces. He is described on the site as having
a "steady and deliberate" strut and a "quick, clear and frequent" gobble. He
enjoys soybean meal and the song "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga.
Caramel's photo shows him with a chipped beak and a short, pointed snood.
According to the White House website, formal turkey pardons began in 1989 with
President George H.W. Bush, but Americans have sent turkeys to the White House
at least since Abraham Lincoln was president. Many presidents granted the birds
a reprieve, though some were not so lucky.
Later Wednesday, the Obama family donated two processed turkeys to a nearby
"This is a season to not only be thankful for the incredible blessings that we
have, but also to remember the neediest and generously serve those who are not
as fortunate," Obama said.
Official designations of a day of thanks were infrequent until Lincoln
proclaimed that a national Thanksgiving Day would be celebrated in 1863 during
the Civil War, according to the National Archives. Since that year the holiday
has been observed annually. The official date was changed to the third Thursday
of November in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to try to lengthen the
holiday shopping period during the Great Depression, a move reversed to the
fourth Thursday by an act of Congress in 1941 after constituents objected to the
According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, an estimated 242 million turkeys
were raised in the United States in 2013, a 5 percent increase from 2012.
With 29 million turkeys, Arkansas is the third-largest turkey-producing state in
the country, beaten out by Minnesota (45 million turkeys) and North Carolina (35
million turkeys), according to the USDA.
For years the National Turkey Federation has donated the pardon-eligible fowl.
The federation's public relations manager, Kimmon Williams, said the federation
chairman traditionally raises and selects the turkeys that travel to the White
House. The federation changes chairmen yearly. John Burkel of Badger, Minn.,
picked this year's contenders.
Williams said male turkeys, called toms, are more likely to be selected because
they look and gobble like people expect a turkey to.
"Turkeys have a very distinct strut," she said. "When they are feeling strong
and kind of strutting, their tails are kind of fluffed out in a fanning motion."
She said the chairman aims for a confident bird that can handle people, noise,
lights and being eye-to-eye with the leader of the free world.
To see which turkey can handle the pressure of being the National Turkey, the
chairmen play music, take photos and have schoolchildren visit the farm before
choosing a bird and a backup, Williams said.
"It's a lot of thought that goes into it," she said.
Burkel drove the 19-week old turkeys to Washington by van.
After the ceremony, the turkeys will be on display at Mount Vernon for Christmas
and will "fully retire" to Morvan Park's Turkey Hill, in Leesburg, Va. Morvan
Park is a historic turkey farm at the home of former Virginia Gov. Westmoreland
"They are rolling out the red carpet for them," Williams said.
While no protesters were present Wednesday, three activists with United Poultry
Concerns on a cold day earlier this month stood on the edge of the park across
the street from the White House and passed out fliers urging people to "discover
a new tradition." Their flier says domestic turkeys are fattened rapidly,
causing them to be lame and have underdeveloped organs.
A banner spread across the leaves in Lafayette Park asked, "Why have a headless
turkey with dead wings and leg stumps for dinner?"
Turkeys going into the food supply are killed between 14 and 18 weeks of age,
Williams said this week. The pardoned birds will live in luxury for the rest of
Their lifespan is usually brief.
"Generally speaking, after the presentation they last 18 months," she said.
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes
the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.
Don't just switch from beef to chicken. Go Vegan.
View this article online