Cadillac family runner up in contest to name turkey pardoned by governor

Pictured is the Hayes family from left, 10-year-old Maddie, father Mike, mother Kristin, and 8-year-old Miles.

CADILLAC — The Hayes family was on the way to Muskegon last week to watch daughter Maddie’s hockey game when mother, Kristin, received a fateful email on her phone.

The email was about a statewide contest to name the turkey that would be pardoned by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before Thanksgiving.

The Cadillac family — comprised of Kristin, Maddie, her brother Miles, and father Mike — had some experience coming up with silly names for animals: back at home, there is a huge stuffed monkey they won in Frankenmuth that they named “Frank Ann Muth.” Miles also raised a pig at his school and named it “Kevin Bacon.”

When Kristin noticed the email, she figured, what better way to make a long car ride a little more interesting?

“It was car-ride chatter,” Kristin said. “It really got us laughing.”

The family came up with a number of names, including “Gobblert,” but Kristin said one name in particular rose above the rest — “Mack E. Gnaw.”

The name is a play on the word Mackinaw, with the end of the word spelled “gnaw” in reference to what many people will be doing on Thanksgiving.

More than 6,000 entries were submitted statewide, and while the Hayes didn’t win, Kristin said the family got a kick out of being listed among the honorable mentions.

According to the state, the winning turkey’s name, “Mitch E. Gander,” was submitted by Seneca Sojourn of Grand Rapids, Mia Simmons of Harper Woods, Justin Rzegocki of Saint Clair, and Tony Lopez of Riverview.

Mitch E. Gander is the first turkey pardoned since the governor took office.

“For many Michiganders, the week before Thanksgiving is stuffed with holiday activities, meal prep and time with family,” said Whitmer. “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.”

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

• Tahquamenon Tom (Kerry Quick, Chesterfield and Ben Schultz, Ann Arbor, sixth grade)

• Otto Moe Beel (David Tomczyk, Ann Arbor)

• Turcules (“like Hercules with a T”) (Jack Neely, Brighton, fifth grade)

• Ryan Gobbling (Christian Hurkmans, Ishpeming, 11th grade)

• Simon Fowl (Jennifer Eccleton, Taylor)

• Lynyrd (Dorothy Rosentreter, Chelsea, and Mike Dotsch, Alpena)

• Mack E. Gnaw (The Hayes family: Kristin, Mike, Maddie and Miles, from Cadillac)

• Roger Featherer (Joan Hanna Darrell, Kalamazoo)

• Steve Thighzerman (Sean Hickey, Ypsilanti)

• Tom Thanks (Sean Hickey, Ypsilanti and Elarose Etchison, Big Rapids, fourth grade)

• Teddy Roostavelt (Michelle Rondell, Manistee)

According to the state, “Mitch is excited for his new lease on life. Word is he’s already exploring a tuition-free path to higher education so he can get a good paying job here in Michigan!”

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