Lucky Clucker Escapes Plucking

Declaring that Americans have a lot to be thankful for "even in the darkest times," President Clinton saved a turkey's life Tuesday.

Before an audience of children in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Clinton used his power as president to keep one turkey off the dinner table this Thanksgiving. This year's lucky clucker, a 45-pounder bred in Minnesota, will be sent to the petting zoo at Frying Pan Park in Fairfax, Virginia.

The snow-white turkey seemed happy about the reprieve. At first he resisted as representatives from the National Turkey Federation struggled to hoist him onto a table, but then he flapped and strutted about before striking a dignified pose beside the president.

"This is the most adventurous turkey we've ever had," Mr. Clinton said. "With this presidential pardon, our friend here will retire ... to live out the remainder of his years surrounded by friends, not peas and sweet potatoes."

Today's turkey pardon was the 51st since President Truman began the practice in 1947. President Lincoln also is said to have issued a pardon once, to placate son Tad. President Clinton credited Lincoln with issuing the first official Thanksgiving proclamation during the Civil War, saying it went a long way toward healing the divided nation.

"Mr. Lincoln reminded us that, even in the darkest times, we all have something to be thankful for," Mr. Clinton said. "We are fortunate this Thanksgiving to live in one of the more prosperous times in our history. But we should never forget there are still people in our nation who need concern and caring."

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed