Liberty and Bell can spread their wings without fear.
The Thanksgiving turkeys played their part Monday in an annual holiday tradition at the White House: a president sparing them from becoming someone’s dinner.
“I hereby pardon Liberty and Bell. Congratulations, birds,” Biden said after one of the National Thanksgiving Turkeys was placed on a table near him.
The event, held on the South Lawn this year instead of the smaller Rose Garden, marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Washington, and Monday was an especially busy opening day.
President Joe Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history, also celebrated turning 81 on Monday. In the afternoon, first lady Jill Biden was accepting the delivery of an 18.5-foot Fraser fir from Fleetwood, North Carolina, as the official White House Christmas tree.
Biden joked about his age, saying, “this is the 76th anniversary of this event. I want you to know I wasn’t there for the first one.” The Democrat’s age has become an issue as he seeks reelection next year.
The tradition dates to 1947 when the National Turkey Federation, which represents turkey farmers and producers, first presented a National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Harry Truman.