The NORAD Santa Tracker has been activated as the jolly old elf soars over rooftops and chimneys in the eastern hemisphere, where Christmas Eve is already in full swing. The North American Aerospace Defense Command’s high-tech monitoring tool has added a modern tradition to countless households, as families show the young ‘uns exactly where Saint Nick and his team of reindeer are flying. And it also times out perfectly (at least where we live) for parents to be able to hasten the children to bed.
All the adult needs to do is point to the screen and say, “Uh oh, Santa’s already in Florida! He’ll be here soon! Quick, get to bed!” You’ve never seen bedtime-denier children scamper up the stairs as quickly or easily.
“The tradition began in 1955, when a child mistakenly rang a Colorado military command asking to speak to Father Christmas – after a local newspaper ran an advert by a department store containing a misprinted phone number,” reports the Independent.
Air Force Commander Harry Shoup, who was manning the phones that Christmas Eve, quickly realised the mistake and assured the child that he was in fact Santa Claus.
As more calls came in that night, Commander Shoup assigned a duty officer to continue answering the phone, birthing a tradition that passed over to Norad when it was formed in 1958.
Every year since, the agency – which defends and monitors the skies over North America – has fielded children’s questions about the red-and-white-clad chimney intruder and his unrivalled delivery schedule.
This year, the Alaska-based agency plans to have 1,500 volunteers working on Christmas Eve, who typically answer around 130,000 calls from children around the world.
NORAD’s 3D map that tracks Santa’s journey in real time was added to the operation nearly two decades ago.
Earlier this Christmas Eve morning, the tracker experienced technical difficulties and was down for a couple of hours. But it’s back up and running now.
Some people worried the intense “bomb cyclone” storm that just walloped half the country would deter Father Christmas from his Christmas Eve run this year. But Lieutenant General David Nahom, a NORAD official stationed in Alaska, told the AP that this year’s extreme frigid weather and heavy snows will make Santa, who lives at the North Pole, feel right at home as he completes his rounds.
So after church, when the feast has been eaten and dishes washed and put away, load up the NORAD Santa Tracker and hasten the wee ones to bed. Then Santa can enjoy some well-deserved cookies,
milk nightcap, and mistletoe in front of the fireplace.
Merry Christmas, PJ Fam!