How Pardoned Turkeys Peas and Carrots Spent Their Big Day in Washington, D.C.
Jeff Sveen, Chairman of the National Turkey Federation, helped raise pardoned turkeys Peas and Carrots in his home state of South Dakota and went with them to Washington, D.C., this week.
"It was fun, it was a blast," he tells PEOPLE. "We took Peas into the room where they do the press briefing and it was a little stressful because there was so much action, a zillion cameras in your face. He was doing great strutting and looking around but when we got back to the rose garden he needed a little time to relax."
Sveen drove the turkeys in the back of an SUV from South Dakota to Washington, D.C., over the weekend and says they had a great time listening to music during the road trip. "They like any kind of music — one prefers rock the other is more of a country western. They're also big fans of Elvis."
When Peas and Carrots arrived in the nation's capital, they once again stayed at the upscale Willard InterContinental Hotel, where the hotel had a room specially equipped for them.
The hotel normally hosts American and foreign dignitaries, general manager Markus Platzer says, but they were excited to have the VITs (that's Very Important Turkeys) back again for the 11th year. This year, the hotel also decided to host a gathering for people to meet the turkeys.
Peas and Carrots walked the red carpet and took selfies with dozens of fans
Platzer tells PEOPLE, "We had about 100 people waiting to see them at the meet and greet and obviously everyone had their phones out. It was exciting and really something special. Everyone loved it."
Renee Munsifi was in the crowd and says, "Meeting the Thanksgiving turkeys was such a unique experience. My daughter had a blast trying to talk to them and I think they talked back!"
Before heading to the White House Tuesday morning, handlers prepped the two 40-pounders for their big moment, bathing and shampooing them and even using a little baby powder to make their coats look white and silky.
Now that they've been officially pardoned, Peas and Carrots are on their way to Virginia Tech, where they'll spend the rest of their lives on a farm called Gobblers Rest at the school's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. They'll be in their own enclosure but will be able to walk around freely and interact with the people who often come through on tours. And they'll be able to listen to all their favorite tunes.
Sveen admits that saying goodbye after the pardoning was not easy. "I cried as they left. I spent all that time with them. But they're going to Virginia Tech where I know they're in great hands."