State officials join Stew Leonard Jr outside Newington store to pardon live turkey 'Booster'

Published on Wednesday, 24 November 2021 14:56
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


NEWINGTON - While celebrating a beloved American tradition the day before Thanksgiving, state officials used the opportunity to urge people to get their covid-19 booster shots.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz joined Stew Leonard Jr. outside his company’s Newington store to pardon a live turkey aptly named “Booster” Wednesday morning.

“We’re saving Booster’s life here today and you can save your own life and the lives of your family and friends by getting the booster shot, or if you haven’t yet, the covid vaccine,” Blumenthal told the public through television cameras outside the store, located in the Newington Fair Shopping Center on the Berlin Turnpike.

The family-owned Stew Leonard’s grocery franchise donated thousands of frozen turkeys to charity organizations across Connecticut, New York and New Jersey just last week, for distribution to families in need.

“The Leonards are a wonderful family,” Blumenthal said. “There’s no cause that goes unnoticed by them.”

The tradition of pardoning a turkey the day before Thanksgiving dates back centuries and Stew Leonard Jr. has led the practice at the Newington store for many years.

“We’re really happy and proud to be a part of this community,” Leonard Jr. said.

Booster the turkey headed back up to his home farm in Pennsylvania following the ceremony.

“Booster has told me he’s sad seeing his friends disappearing these days,” the Senator joked. “We’re here to reassure Booster that he’s going to see this Thanksgiving and many Thanksgivings to come in Turkey Land.”

Bysiewicz thanked the grocery store staff for their hard work over the last two years in particular.

“You’ve been there on the front lines during the pandemic and beyond,” she said. “We appreciate all that you did and all that you’re doing. I’m delighted to be here on behalf of Governor Ned Lamont and myself, to encourage everyone who is eligible – now everyone over age 18 – to get their booster shot.”

“It’s been proven safe and effective and it’s free,” Blumenthal added.

The legislators also took the opportunity to wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season.

A big part of that will be getting around safely.

“The roads are busier than I’ve seen them in the last three decades,” Blumenthal said.

“We have the State Police out on highways across the state and they will be on the lookout for folks who may be driving impaired or under the influence,” Bysiewicz added, encouraging people partaking in holiday revelry to use Uber or Lyft as transportation.

Before departing for other engagements, the legislators visited with Booster the turkey and Leonard, Jr.

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at

Posted in The Bristol Press, General News on Wednesday, 24 November 2021 14:56. Updated: Wednesday, 24 November 2021 14:59.