Governors Aren’t ‘Chicken’ When it Comes to Live Birds on Thanksgiving

BY Katelyn Polantz  November 21, 2012 at 12:11 PM EST

View a slide show of governors and their Thanksgiving traditions.

The lucky turkeys always have a name.

This year, Turkey Tom received a pardon in Utah. And foul named Grace received the blessing of life in North Dakota. In Alabama, the pardoned turkey is always named Clyde.

Not all American governors participate in a turkey pardon or other celebration of the bird. Many governors oversee donations of thousands of turkeys for the hungry. Some governors choose to spend Thanksgiving with a public statement on the holiday and a private day with family. Others, including Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, honor the holiday by volunteering at charity kitchens or food pantries.

And then there’s Virginia.

Gov. Bob McDonnell and each of his gubernatorial predecessors for more than 100 years have taken part in an annual tax tribute ceremony. Members of two of Virginia’s Native American tribes bring to the governor’s home two slaughtered deer and a turkey as a way to pay their tax debts. The ceremony honors a pre-revolutionary treaty with the British monarchy, and the event often draws crowds.

Related: Watch the presidential turkey pardon.