Lucky Turkey Spared By NJ Lt. Gov. Way at Stew Leonard’s Annual Tradition

Upholding an annual tradition dating to Abraham Lincoln, New Jersey Lt. Gov. Tahesha Way officially pardoned Travis the turkey on Monday (Nov. 20) at Stew Leonard’s Supermarket in Paramus. 

The ceremony coincided with the White House’s yearly custom. This year, President Joe Biden pardoned Liberty and Bell on the South Lawn. The two 42-pound turkeys came from Willmar, Minnesota.

“On behalf of the great state of New Jersey and all the powers invested in me as Lieutenant Governor, I pardon you, Travis, wishing you lifelong blessings. You are spared,” said Way.

The event was part of Stew Leonard’s 40th annual Turkey Brigade, which will bring 3,000 turkeys to food banks throughout the tri-state area.

“Out of the 24,997 turkeys we’re going to sell, we are going to pardon three of them. This is one of the three,” said Stew Leonard Jr., President and CEO of Stew Leonard’s.

Travis will be sent to a Connecticut farm to live out his remaining days along with his girlfriend Taylor, who was pardoned at another Stew Leonard’s store in the state.

Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera also pardoned Sears the turkey, who will live the rest of its life on a local farm. Turkeys can live to be about 10 years old and are typically killed at about 5 months old, according to PETA.

The official Presidential Turkey Pardon was declared a tradition in 1989 by President George H. W. Bush, but it was President Abraham Lincoln who pardoned the first bird, according to the White House Historical Association. It was Lincoln’s son Tad who urged the President to officially pardon the turkey that was intended to be their Christmas day meal.

Stew Leonard is opening a 56,000 square foot food and wine store in Clifton’s Styertowne Shopping Center next summer. Stew Leonard’s Wines and Spirits of Clifton will also move from their current location on Allwood Road and will sell 1,000 wines, 800 spirits, and 400 beers as part of the new food and wine store.