As a vegetarian of eight years, Thanksgiving is the day I celebrate the deliciousness of the yam (no marshmallows, please), rather than the gobbler. So, naturally, I am proud of my country for honoring an annual tradition in which the President “pardons” a turkey. Each year, one lucky bird is appointed National Thanksgiving Turkey, appearing at the White House and getting an official pardon from the president. But, did you ever wonder where the pardoned turkey goes post-pardoning? I shuddered to think that Mr. or Ms. Turkey ended up back on some mass-producing turkey farm or lonely somewhere in a dank old barn. These turkeys deserved the best; Ben Franklin, after all, wanted them to be the national bird.
After reading up on my Turkey Pardoning, I was pleased to find out that since 2005 these lucky gobblers have been living out the rest of their days in the happiest place on Earth. Seriously. They go to Disneyland and Disney World! It is in these childhood paradises that the turkeys are put on special diets to shed the extra pounds they carried in the event that they would be slaughtered so that they can now flap about happily and healthily. They are also trained in order to keep them physically and mentally active.
The first turkeys to go Disney-style were Marshmallow and Yam. I’m not too fond of the names—might as well call them Lunch and Dinner. At least they were pardoned. Last year’s turkeys were May and Flower (by popular vote). This year’s turkeys will go to Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Ranch, visible to anyone who wishes to see them.
So this Thanksgiving, take a moment to think about those great American amusement parks…and the turkeys that live there. —Jill Brodsky