Yesterday, an annual phenomenon occurred in the office of the Governor of North Dakota.  Governor Jack Dalrymple gathered several top officials in his conference room Monday to talk turkey, and to perform the official act that is performed every year, around Thanksgiving, which is to pardon one lucky turkey from being slaughtered, gutted, and ultimately consumed.

Lena the turkey was unflappable, standing stoically in the middle of the conference table while Dalrymple pardoned the 26-pound, 20-week-old turkey owned by the North Dakota Turkey Federation President Harvey Hofer, in this annual pre-Thanksgiving holiday tradition at the Capitol.

“I think she’s had a little tranquilizer,” Dalrymple speculated, but Hofer stated that that was not the case because they are pretty docile, when they get that old.

Dalrymple’s staff took precautions of any potential accidents by spreading a blue tarp across the conference table which proved to be beneficial, due to the piles of turkey poop left behind.

“We have learned some things over the years,” Dalrymple said.

The remark brought chuckles as many in the room remembered an incident in 2006 in which then-Gov. John Hoeven ignored the advice of then-Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson to “just leave her be,” and ended up chasing Mabel the turkey as she strutted and flapped around and relieved herself.

This year’s ceremony had no such theatrics, with Lena surveying the room as Dalrymple said, “I hereby pardon you and allow you to continue on with your life past Thanksgiving.”

Before this year’s pardon, Dalrymple and Goehring presented frozen turkeys to representatives of the Abused Adult Resource Center and the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House for the homeless.  The Turkey Federation is donating 24 turkeys to each of the charities.

So, this annual event made me wonder just what happens to all these turkeys that are officially “pardoned by mayors, governors, presidents, and other officials who participate in this annual occurrence.  Since, I do not see any pens with turkeys in them from past Thanksgivings, around the governor’s mansion and judging the governor’s waist line; I have to conclude that these turkeys may not be consumed on Thanksgiving, but I would not count out Christmas.  I also do not see the turkey farmer just releasing these birds along the road somewhere, so you need to ask yourself this question.

When is a pardon by a governor really a pardon and also, how safe would you feel if you were a turkey who was raised to be eaten and Thanksgiving was just around the corner?

If you are not a turkey…have a happy Thanksgiving from Carol and I and if you are…run for the hills!