Weather Forecast


Turkeys, now named Liberty and Peace, to be pardoned today

Willmar High School FFA students present Liberty the turkey to the national media Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The national turkey will be present to President Obama at a ceremony this morning at the White House and then pardoned.

Ted and Ray will have different names when they go to the White House today to be pardoned by the president.

When they meet President Barack Obama in the Rose Garden, the turkeys from Willmar will be named Liberty and Peace, according to a news release from the White House. They were going by the names Ted and Ray when they left Willmar on Monday.

The bird named Liberty will be the official national Thanksgiving turkey, and Peace will be an alternate. If Liberty is not behaving well, Peace will stand in at the official ceremony.

The two 45-pound turkeys were raised near Willmar with the help of four members of the Willmar High School FFA chapter.

The four students, Brianna Hoover, Brenna Ahlquist, Val Brown and Preston Asche, traveled to the ceremony with representatives of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

Willmar Poultry provided the birds because executive vice president Rick Huisinga is also president of the National Turkey Federation.

Huisinga worked with the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association to raise the birds. The FFA students were recruited to help socialize the birds. They started with a flock of more than 30 birds, which was narrowed to Ted and Ray, the best-behaved of the lot.

They were originally named after Willmar Poultry founders Ray Norling and Ted Huisinga.

The names Liberty and Peace were chosen from more than 100 submissions to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association's website. Many of the submissions came from Minneapolis and St. Paul school children who learned this year about the importance of agriculture to the world food supply and to our local economies, according to the White House release.

This year marks the 64th anniversary of the national Thanksgiving turkey ceremony.

After the pardoning, the turkeys will be driven to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. The national Thanksgiving turkey will be on display for visitors during "Christmas at Mount Vernon," a special program through January 6.

After the holidays, the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate will live in a custom-made enclosure at Mount Vernon's livestock facility.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340