WASHINGTON — A good-natured President Obama on Wednesday spared the lives of two turkeys that played their own parts perfectly.
In what has become a Thanksgiving-eve ritual, Obama offered a presidential pardon to Apple and its pal Cider. The turkeys remained calm and statesmanlike as the president blessed them with a pointed reminder of his own recent political woes.
"Let me say," Obama said, "that it feels pretty good to stop at least one shellacking this November."
Officially, Apple is now the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Cider is the feathered understudy. Both of the 21-week-old birds were raised on Foster Farms' Wellsford Ranch, outside of Modesto, Calif. Both will now live out their remaining days at Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.
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The turkeys will be part of a special holiday display through Jan. 6, and then will live with the estate's other livestock.
Yubert Envia and Ira Brister of Foster Farms served as the chief turkey wranglers during the Rose Garden ceremony. Before the event began Wednesday morning, Brister stood by while Apple gobbled away and checked out part of the Rose Garden.
While Obama, joined by his daughters Sasha and Malia, spoke, Envia gently stroked Apple. It was also Envia to whom Obama directed a post-pardon question.
"That's some kind of wattle," Obama marveled, upon approaching Apple. "Can someone explain to me what this whole wattle thing is about?"
For the record, a turkey's wattle helps keep the animal cool. It also serves as a show-off display.