I apologize in advance that I’m not going to be able to write a completely coherent blog post about Thanksgiving week. I seriously am staring at my computer screen at a loss for the right words to describe my experiences last week in Washington DC.
Thrilling. Hilarious. Exhausting. Surreal. Memories of a lifetime.
How else can you describe traveling to our nation’s Capitol to attend the National Thanksgiving Turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House?
How do you convey how amazing it was to be welcomed into the White House (seriously – inside the White House!), where we could walk from room to room, free to take photos of so many historical treasures?
How is it possible we were served hot cider in White House china by White House staff?
And that’s all before the pardoning ceremony took place.
Soon, we were nestled under umbrellas (thanks to my boss man!) on the North Portico of the White House, awaiting President Obama and his two daughters. We had a myriad of media and cameras behind us and “Popcorn” – the National Thanksgiving Turkey from Minnesota – in front of us, strutting around like he owned the place.
What a proud moment it was for me to watch the Burkel family from Badger, MN, walk out to the ceremony after having a private meet-and-greet with President Obama himself. I’ve known this family nearly as long as I’ve worked for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, and I know they were taking all of this in with their five children.
The day prior to the ceremony was full of funny moments – as we watched photographers from The Washington Post, Politico and others take pictures of the two turkeys, who, incidentally, had their very own room at The Willard Hotel. Teacher Man and I stayed right across the hall from the birds, and occasionally, we could hear them gobble to a noise they must have heard.
Teacher Man took a cab to the Dr. King monument and had an extended conversation with the cab driver about how cool it was to have the turkeys in Washington DC. My boss sat down to eat breakfast at a restaurant near the hotel, only to overhear a family discussing which turkey they should vote for – Popcorn or Caramel – in the White House voting contest. Nearly everyone, it seems, loves this turkey pardoning ceremony in Washington DC.
We even tried to get #PresidentialTurkey13 trending on Twitter! We didn’t quite make it, but we had many people from all over the U.S. share our Tweets and join in the excitement.
Which leads us all back to the White House, where Teacher Man and I were just a mere 15-20 feet away from the President of the United States. We were thrilled to be part of this little moment in history – and neither one of us could have ever predicted years ago that we would be standing on the North Portico watching the President give a short speech.
Thrilling. Hilarious. Exhausting. Surreal. Memories of a lifetime. And thankful to be a part of it all.
Popcorn showing everyone that he’s the “man” of the hour, awaiting his Presidential pardon at the North Portico of the White House.
Yep, we were this close.
The actual pardoning of Popcorn.
Here I am before the ceremony, admiring Jackie Kennedy’s portrait.
Teacher Man and the Abraham Lincoln portrait.
Piano music filled the air at the White House prior to the pardoning ceremony.
White House cider in White House china!
The day before the pardoning ceremony was filled with media interviews and photo shoots for the turkeys and for National Turkey Federation Chairman John Burkel (left – wearing the glasses). Here, if I recall correctly, the birds were looking pretty – errr, I mean handsome – for the Washington Post. This room was right across the hall from ours!
A real behind-the-scenes look at what this whole project takes – here’s National Turkey Federation Chairman John Burkel vacuuming wood shavings (from the floor of the turkeys’ room) off the pant legs of a Washington Post reporter.
And the Burkel family with Popcorn after the pardoning ceremony – what a wonderful family and such an amazing experience for them!
And finally … I had to repost this photo at The Willard Hotel because the #PoultryNerd in me loves this! There are so many reasons why I love my job, but this definitely has to be one of them!