Disneyland Facts & History > Frontierland (14) > Courage the Pardoned Turkey
Courage the Pardoned Turkey
In his first Thanksgiving in the White House, President Obama pardoned Courage the Turkey. Courage & Carolina are the two turkeys officially pardoned in 2009, with Carolina acting as the alternate.
Official Presidential turkey pardons were not granted until 1989, when President George H.W. Bush pardoned the tom turkey that was gifted by the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board. The board traditionally presents the White House with a few dressed turkeys and one live one. Other Presidents, Harry S. Truman & John F. Kennedy have spared the live turkeys, but neither granted official presidential pardons. The idea for pardoning supposedly came from President Ronald Reagan, who joked about pardoning the gifted live turkey. However, it was President Bush who finally followed through on the idea, creating a new American tradition.
Though the official tradition started in 1989, the pardoned turkeys did not come to Disneyland until 2005, where the official turkey (and the alternate) have been flown to California to act as Grand Marshalls in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since 2005, the pardoned turkeys have been invited to become lifelong Disney residents, in alternating years the turkeys are sent to either Disneyland's the Big Thunder Ranch or Walt Disney World.