The Rose Garden, The White House
November 24, 1998
On Tuesday, November 24, the National Turkey Federation will present President Clinton with the 1998 National Thanksgiving Day Turkey in the Rose Garden. Continuing a tradition begun by President Truman, President Clinton will give a presidential pardon to the National Thanksgiving Day Turkey.
This year's National Thanksgiving Day Turkey will be presented by National Turkey Federation Chairman Frank Gessell. Mr. Gessell is president of Gessell Turkey Farms in Swanville, Minnesota.
The 1998 National Thanksgiving Day Turkey was raised in West Concord, Minnesota by Jerry Jerome, NTF Secretary Treasurer. The turkey will be 23 weeks old at the time of the presentation and weighs approximately 45 pounds. The turkey was hatched in early May and has been raised using normal turkey production techniques for breeder toms. The criteria for selecting the turkey includes appearance and demeanor.
The National Thanksgiving Day Turkey and the alternate were flown to Washington by the Gessells on the day before the ceremony. The Gessells and the turkeys stayed overnight in the Hotel Washington before going to the White House for the presentation. During the ceremony, the turkey will be handled by Walter Gislason.
The event will take place before an audience that includes members from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington provides at-risk youth programs emphasizing character and leadership development; education and career development; health and life skills; the arts; and sports fitness and recreation. The organization serves over 20,000 youth at its 17 Clubs and nine Group Homes.
The National Thanksgiving Day Turkey and the alternate will be taken to Kidwell Farm in Herndon, Virginia. Kidwell Farm, at Frying Pan Park, is operated by the Fairfax County Parks Department and is a replica of a 1930s working farm. The birds will reside at the farm with National Thanksgiving Turkeys and alternates from previous ceremonies.
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