Biden Marks 81st Birthday with Presidential Pardon for Thanksgiving Turkeys Liberty and Bell


In a festive celebration at the White House, President Joe Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history, marked his 81st birthday by participating in the annual tradition of pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys. The two turkeys, named Liberty and Bell, were scheduled to make an appearance at the White House on Monday, where they were spared from the Thanksgiving dinner table.

The event, usually held in the Rose Garden but moved to the South Lawn this year, signifies the unofficial commencement of the holiday season in Washington. Coincidentally, Monday was a busy day, not only featuring the turkey pardon but also the delivery of the official White House Christmas tree, an 18-and-a-half foot Fraser fir from Fleetwood, North Carolina.

Steve Lykken, chairman of the National Turkey Federation and president of the Jennie-O Turkey Store, expressed excitement about the festivities, considering it a great way to kick off the holiday season. Liberty and Bell were introduced at the Willard Intercontinental, a luxury hotel near the White House, after their red-carpet arrival in a black Cadillac Escalade following a road trip from Minnesota.

Lykken highlighted that the turkeys, both around 20 weeks old and weighing about 42 pounds, were raised in Willmar, Minnesota, as part of the “presidential flock.” The birds were exposed to music and various sounds to prepare them for the attention they would receive during the White House event.

On the lighter side, Lykken mentioned that Liberty and Bell are fans of Taylor Swift, jokingly calling them “Swifties.” The male turkeys were given a presidential pardon after being spared from the Thanksgiving table, a tradition dating back to 1947 when the National Turkey Federation first presented a turkey to President Harry Truman.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar celebrated the pardon, emphasizing the honor for Minnesota, the leading turkey-producing state in the nation. Following the pardon, Liberty and Bell will be cared for by the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Sciences.

Biden, continuing a family tradition, plans to spend Thanksgiving on Nantucket, Massachusetts. As part of pre-Thanksgiving activities, the president and First Lady Jill Biden served an early Thanksgiving meal to service members and their families at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia.

Markus Platzer, the general manager of the Willard, expressed the hotel’s joy in hosting the turkeys, calling it the “highlight of the year” and a moment that brings smiles amid global challenges. The turkeys, Liberty and Bell, are set to enjoy their post-pardon days with the care of students, veterinarians, and professors, making occasional appearances, perhaps even at a hockey game or with the university’s mascot, Goldy the gopher.