Jessica Mathews /

Governor Gretchen Whitmer ceremoniously pardoned the first turkey before Thanksgiving and a local resident was a runner-up in the naming contest.

The turkey’s name, Mitch E. Gander, was submitted by Seneca of Grand Rapids and Mia of Harper Woods. The name was selected from more than 6,000 entries in the statewide contest announced last week. Mitch E. Gander is the first turkey pardoned since the governor took office.

One runner-up name was Turcules, which was submitted by Jack in Brighton.

Whitmer commented that “For many Michiganders, the week before Thanksgiving is stuffed with holiday activities, meal prep, and time with family. But before we gobble down our Thanksgiving meal and baste in the glow of family and friends, it’s important to take time to reflect on everything we are grateful for. Our family, friends, and loved ones, even though they might ruffle our feathers sometimes. Michigan’s health care professionals, armed service members, volunteers, and everyone who works hard to make our state better. I am proud to pardon Mitch E. Gander, and I wish every Michigander a great Thanksgiving.”