Ever since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a turkey each year to the President of the United States to mark the Thanksgiving season. And what is the turkey’s fate?
THE PROCESS BEGINS in April, when top-quality turkey eggs are selected and placed in incubators. In May the eggs hatch1 and reveal2 baby turkeys, which weigh about 50 grams each.
BY SEPTEMBER the little turkeys are about 16 weeks old. The first round of selection3 of the 10 top turkeys is made at this point. Only males4, called “toms”, are chosen because they are bigger than the females. In addition to size, the criteria for selection include feather quality5, posture6 (how straight they stand), and temperament and mood. The last measure is a very serious one, since in 1984 a nervous national turkey flapped its wings7 in President Ronald Reagan’s face and jumped off the presentation table in front of the White House!
BY OCTOBER, at the age of about 22 weeks, the chosen turkeys undergo an additional selection process which reduces the number of turkeys to only four candidates for this important Presidential Primary8.
ON ABOUT NOVEMBER 20, the National Thanksgiving Turkey is chosen, along with a runner-up9, just in case. By now the prize bird weighs more than 60 pounds or almost 30 kilograms.
ON NOVEMBER 25, the National Turkey and his runner-up are both flown to the nation’s capital by private jet10 and are escorted in a van to the Hotel Washington, where all the top turkeys have stayed for the last 30 years. The hotel gives the birds a VIP welcome and shows them up to their luxury rooftop accommodations. One of the hotel’s manager once said: “We treat all of our guests with the same outstanding service, whether they are presidents, ambassadors or turkeys”. The two distinguished11 guests dine on only the best grain12 available and spend the night in a room with a spectacular view of the White House down below.
ON THE NEXT DAY, King Tom and his friend are driven to the White House. King Tom is led to the White House Rose Garden for the presidential ceremony and his friend must stay in the van in case he is needed.
AT AROUND 11 A.M. the winning bird is presented to the President for the final leg13 of his journey. American Presidents have pardoned14 many people during U.S. history, and in keeping with this honourable tradition, the President is expected to grant a pardon14 to the National Thanksgiving Turkey. To date, no president has ever disappointed the worthy bird.
AFTER THE CEREMONY, both King Tom, the National Thanksgiving Turkey and his runner up are taken to a farm at Frying Pan Park in Virginia, which is the retirement home15 for all presidential turkeys and their runners up. The national turkey will then hold a scheduled news conference for the benefit16 of young children who visit the farm.
FINALLY, the two birds are introduced to their new home, a red barn17 with a surrounding pen18, where they will share quarters19, two meals a day and the rest of their lives with last year’s birds, which are the only ones still living.
Vocabulary:1 vyliahnuť – vylíhnout; 2 odhaliť, ukázať – odhalit, ukázat; 3 kolo výberu – kolo výběru; 4 príslušník mužského pohlavia – příslušník mužského pohlaví; 5 kvalita peria – kvalita peří; 6 držanie tela – držení těla; 7 zatrepať krídlami – zatřepat křídly; 8 primárky; 9 kto obsadil druhé miesto – kdo obsadil druhé místo; 10 tryskové lietadlo – letadlo; 11 význační; 12 zrno; 13 etapa, úsek; 14 udeliť milosť – udělit milost; 15 dom dôchodcov – dům důchodců; 16 v prospech – ve prospěch; 17 stodola; 18 ohrada; 19 ubytovňa – ubytovna, ubikace