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Monday, December 22, 2014

NORAD Tracks Santa

You might have noticed (at least in the US) that occasionally tv stations break in on December 24th with bulletins about Santa's whereabouts, reminding kids that they'll have to be in bed before he arrives.

NORAD stands for North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint military organization between the US and Canada. It identifies and defends against airborne threats. But did you know how it came to track Santa?

 It's hard to imagine such an important organization concerned with Santa. Yet they take their job seriously, reporting when their radar spots Santa and tracking him as he goes around the world delivering presents. In one of the videos (on their web site) they even give him fighter escort.

But how it started was a complete fluke!

In 1955, Sears department store had placed an ad in the Colorado Springs newspaper and had listed an incorrect phone number for kids to dial and talk to Santa. Unfortunately, the number was for CONAD, the predecessor for NORAD.

Colonel Shoup was on duty that night and he did the most remarkable thing. He told his staff to give Santa's current location, and thus began a tradition.

Today, manned by both military and civilian volunteers, they handle calls from children all over the world. NORAD has used tv, radio, newspaper, web sites, and even Twitter. I usually miss the bulletins, but the weather reports of nearly every station almost always includes an update from NORAD on Santa's current location on Christmas Eve. 

Another noteworthy thing about this operation is that it is NOT paid for by tax dollars but by corporate sponsors. 

So look for bulletins from NORAD. Santa is on his way.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

My whole life is a fluke. I love flukes.

Angela Brown said...

So instead of the colonel turning around and telling all the precious, excited children calling in to leave the phone line alone and just go to sleep for Santa to do his job, he took on the challenge of providing the kids what they needed: some Christmas spirit and heightened anticipation of Santa's arrival :-)

That is just...beautiful *sniffle, tears*

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: Many of life's greatest moments happen all because of a fluke. Greg meeting me was one.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Kindness takes many forms and sometimes it even wears a uniform.

God bless Col. Shoup.

Jenny Schwartz said...

What a wonderful story :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Isn't it? It says a lot about the man.

Sandra Almazan said...

I look forward to tracking Santa Christmas Eve with my son. However, I am not looking forward to getting my son to fall asleep so Santa can visit.

Mike Keyton said...

That's a wonderful story, Maria. It puts into perspective pernicious diatribes against all things military. Not too sure we get this service in the UK though :(

Maria Zannini said...

Sandra: You echo the sentiment of mothers everywhere. :)

Merry Christmas, hon!

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I'm sure the UK has a similar organization but whether they track Santa might be a matter of priorities and state secrets.