Thursday, December 3, 2009

After the Pardon, This Turkey Flies High

It’s one of the most successful PR events of all time: Every Thanksgiving, the National Turkey Federation – a PCG client for many years – presents the President of the United States with the National Thanksgiving Turkey (and an alternate, should the first turkey not be able to perform its duties) to be pardoned.

NTF has presented turkeys to commanders in chief since Harry Truman started the tradition, and for more than 50 years the event has generated hundreds of press clips. CNN provided live coverage of President Obama’s first pardon.

“It’s always a lot of fun, and a big media event,” said Sherrie Rosenblatt, NTF’s vice president of marketing and communications. “This year, ‘Courage’ was a very good tom, but that’s not always been the case. In 2002, the pardoned bird pecked at President Bush in a very, uh, inappropriate way.”

“Fortunately, the president was a good sport – and we did make the front page in dozens of papers that year,” she added.

For the last five years, Disneyland has provided the pardoned turkeys with a home. Sherrie has had the privilege of escorting the turkeys to California aboard United Airlines Flight “Turkey-1” several times. The photos posted here are exclusive from Courage’s trip.

“It’s always amazing to see the strange looks and questions we get from other passengers on the plane, but they all want to get their pictures taken with the birds” she said. “The turkeys are great conversation starters.”

Courage served as the honorary grand marshal of Disneyland’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and now he and his alternate, “Carolina,” will live out their days at Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland.

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