NEWINGTON, Conn — The practice of pardoning a turkey dates back to the days of President Abraham Lincoln. In Newington, a turkey—bred for consumption—became one of the lucky ones this Thanksgiving Eve.
“A local farm in Connecticut that’s going to take care of this turkey and it’s going to stay a turkey until its final days,” said Stew Leonard Jr., President and CEO of Stew Leonard’s.
The independent grocer sells some 35,000 turkeys during the holidays—all from a Pennsylvania Dutch County farm.
As last-minute shoppers grabbed fresh turkeys inside the Newington store, Ines fussed inside a cage outdoors, preparing to live out its days eating veggies and grains after being officially pardoned by Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
“The president the other day pardoned two turkeys. One of them named Chocolate and the other named Chip. But I like Ines better,” said Blumenthal of the turkey, named after Leonard’s firstborn infant granddaughter who was born in July.
“When she gets old enough to read, she’s going to be surprised to see she was a turkey one day at Stew Leonard’s,” Leonard said.
But shopping on Thanksgiving Eve isn’t last minute for Maria Sheehan of Portland. It’s tradition.
“The flavor and everything is so good, and it’s so much easier than buying frozen where you have to defrost it for three days,” she said.
Sheehan doesn’t mind that one of these turkeys was spared.
“Everybody should be pardoned for something,” she said.
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