YELLVILLE, Ark., Oct. 11 (UPI) — A traditional Arkansas turkey drop was aborted this year following threats from an animal rights group and the Federal Aviation Administration, observers said.
Fans gathering in downtown Yellville were in high anticipation at the 66th annual Turkey Trot festival Saturday as an unknown aviator dubbed The Phantom Pilot circled overhead in his small plane, The Baxter (Ark.) Bulletin reported Monday.
But no turkeys were dropped and the plane flew away.
The traditional turkey dropping was torpedoed this year when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ponied up a $5,000 bounty for the arrest and conviction of anyone who dropped a turkey from the skies.
The pilot also had the feds on his tail in the form of a threat from an FAA official threatening to pull his license if any one of their team, present at the festival, witnessed any turkeys dropping, the newspaper said.
A satiric wanted poster allegedly circulated in Yellville offering a $10,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person from PETA trying to stop the turkey drop.
It’s unclear where the custom of dropping turkeys around Thanksgiving came from but it may have been inspired by a 1978 episode of the sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” “Turkeys Away” in which the famous tag line uttered by the radio station owner following a disastrous turkey drop promotion was “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”