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Obama to 'pardon' Thanksgiving turkeys

Emily Burkel, 5, daughter of National Turkey Federation chairman John Burkel, looks at turkeys, Caramel and Popcorn as they are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Emily Burkel, 5, daughter of National Turkey Federation chairman John Burkel, looks at turkeys, Caramel and Popcorn as they are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Emily (left), 5, and Jack, 10, children of National Turkey Federation chairman John Burkel, look at turkeys, Caramel and Popcorn as they are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Emily (left), 5, and Jack, 10, children of National Turkey Federation chairman John Burkel, look at turkeys, Caramel and Popcorn as they are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Two turkeys, one named Caramel and the other Popcorn are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Two turkeys, one named Caramel and the other Popcorn are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Two turkeys, Named Caramel and Popcorn, are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Two turkeys, Named Caramel and Popcorn, are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Two turkeys, one named Caramel and the other Popcorn are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. President Barack Obama will symbolically "pardon" the two turkeys on Wednesday on the eve of the US Thanksgiving holiday, in what
Two turkeys, one named Caramel and the other Popcorn are presented to the press in Washington, DC on Nov 26, 2013. President Barack Obama will symbolically "pardon" the two turkeys on Wednesday on the eve of the US Thanksgiving holiday, in what has become an annual White House rite. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama will symbolically "pardon" two turkeys on 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.