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Turkey pardon saves Honest, Abe: Obama saves birds in time for Thanksgiving

The White House's Thanksgiving festivities would not be complete without the annual Presidential Turkey Pardon, and President Obama did the honors on Wednesday to keep some special birds — and a centuries-old tradition — alive.

Just a day before Americans across the country sit down to celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey dinners, Obama was on hand to reveal the turkeys whose lives would be spared. He also rolled out an array of his signature dad jokes, such as, "Time flies, even if turkeys don't."

Mark Wilson / Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 24: Jihad Douglas, chairman of the National Turkey Federation introduces two turkeys during a media availability at the Willard Inter Continental Hotel ahead of their "pardon" by US President Barack Obama at the White House November 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. The names of the main turkey and his alternate will be announced at the annual White House ceremony on November 25. Both turkeys will reside at their new home, Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As is tradition, the president was accompanied by his daughters, Malia and Sasha, for the occasion.

"They do this solely because it makes me feel good, not because they actually think this is something I should be doing, and as you get older you appreciate when your kids just indulge you like this and I am grateful for this," Obama said.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks with his daughters Sasha (L) and Malia during the annual turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House November 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. In a tradition dating back to 1947, the president pardons a turkey, sparing the tom -- and his alternate -- from becoming a Thanksgiving Day feast. This year, Americans were asked to choose which of two turkeys would be pardoned and to cast their votes on Twitter. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This year, there were two turkeys up for the title of the National Thanksgiving Turkey, and Americans were able to vote on Twitter for which bird should be crowned the winner. While there could only be one winner, both turkeys were pardoned by the president, though only one got the privilege of gracing his presence.

GARY CAMERON / Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama (L) performs the 68th annual pardoning of Thanksgiving turkey "Abe" in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington November 25, 2015. President Obama's daughters Malia (R) and Sasha (2ndR) cheer the pardoning along with Foster Farms turkey growout manager Joe Hedden, (2ndL). REUTERS/Gary Cameron

"America is a country of second chances and this turkey has earned his spot to live a second chance," Obama said.

The turkeys were dubbed "Honest" and "Abe" by schoolchildren in California. The Twitter contest was a close race, but Abe came out on top with 55 percent of the vote.

RELATED: No Thanksgiving Mac and Cheese: Obama pardons turkeys in annual ritual

"He is TOTUS. The turkey of the United States," said President Obama, as he crowned Abe the official National Thanksgiving Turkey and pardon winner.

While the two 18-week turkeys are both originally from California's Central Valley, they will not be returning to the Golden State, but rather will be spending the rest of their lives on a farm in Virginia.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

While Obama candidly admitted he agreed with those who think the annual event is a little ridiculous, he did close out the ceremony on a more serious note as he wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

"We go through challenging times, so often the news of the day can make folks discouraged," the president said, "but the fact is that we live in the greatest country on earth and we are blessed in so many ways."

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