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President Pardons Thanksgiving Turkeys

President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha (left) and Malia, carries on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving Popcorn the turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," at the White House in Washington, Nov. 27, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama followed decades of tradition Wednesday and "pardoned" the national Thanksgiving turkey and its alternate.

The Thanksgiving holiday in the United States is a time for family gatherings with sumptuous turkey feasts.

But the president said at the White House these birds, nicknamed Popcorn and Caramel, would skip the annual Thanksgiving feast that many Americans travel hundreds of kilometers to enjoy.

The American Automobile Association estimates that more than 43 million people are expected to travel 80 kilometers or more this week.

Snow, sleet and rain have complicated some holiday plans for millions of Americans taking to the roads, skies and rails. Airlines have delayed thousands of flights and canceled hundreds more due to a massive weather system that now stretches along the entire east coast.

Tradition says the first American Thanksgiving occurred in 1621, when early North American settlers gave thanks for their harvest after a harsh winter.

More than a century later, the nation's first president, George Washington, issued a Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789.