Obama saves turkeys from Thanksgiving chop

Obama saves turkeys from Thanksgiving chop

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Obama saves turkeys from Thanksgiving chop

President Barack Obama waves after carrying out the Thanksgiving tradition of saving a turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," at the White House on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 in Washington. AP Photo

President Barack Obama saved a turkey from ending up on a Thanksgiving dinner table Nov. 27, an annual White House ritual on the eve of the popular US holiday.

"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," joked Obama as he announced his pardon for a plump 37 lb (17 kilo) turkey named Popcorn. "By the power vested in me...you have a full reprieve from cranberry sauce and stuffing," Obama added in a lighthearted ceremony, flanked by his daughters Sasha and Malia.

Popcorn escaped the butcher's block after edging out a rival bird, Caramel, in a consultation conducted by the White House on the Twitter and Facebook social networks. Caramel, however, was also spared. "He's not sticking around -- he's already busy raising money for his next campaign," Obama quipped.

The two turkeys will be taken to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, outside the US capital, before heading for a happy retirement at a farm in Virginia.

Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated American holidays, a family gathering that typically brings people from far and wide for a feast of stuffed roast turkey and all the trimmings.

Its roots go back to the 1620s when legend has it that newly arrived European colonists celebrated a feast to give thanks to God for their survival with the help of native Americans.