Obama to ‘pardon’ Thanksgiving turkeys

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will symbolically "pardon" two turkeys Wednesday on the eve of the US Thanksgiving holiday, in what has become an annual White House rite.

The two birds, named "Caramel" and "Popcorn," will have their 15 minutes of fame in the White House Rose Garden where they will win a reprieve from the "leader of the free world" before dozens of reporters and photographers.

The White House is holding a popularity contest on Facebook to see which of the two should be designated the "National Thanksgiving Turkey."

Both will then be driven to Mount Vernon, George Washington's historic mansion just south of Washington where they will be on display for visitors through Christmas.

Thanksgiving is one of the most celebrated American holidays, a family gathering that typically brings people from far and wide for a feast of stuffed roast turkey and all the trimmings.

Its roots go back to the 1620s when legend has it that newly arrived European colonists celebrated a feast to give thanks to God for their survival with the help of native Americans.