I know, I know, you’re reading the title of today’s blog and asking yourself “Well, gee, what could possibly go wrong?” The answer, my cynical friend, is ‘nothing.’
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, which is inexplicably given the acronym NORAD, coordinates the Canadian and American air-forces and nuclear weapons. They worked through the Cold War to keep North America safe from Soviet military threats. They provided our allies with a seriously powerful tool to help maintain peace. And if the Cold War was savagely lampooned in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, it was still taken seriously by millions of people who built fallout shelters in their backyards, stocked up on foodstuffs and, essentially, prepared for the impending holocaust.
Obviously these men and women were under a lot of pressure. To help relieve that, in 1955, they began using the technology available to them to not only protect our borders but to track Santa and provide national news networks with updates that they could pass along to children of all ages.
As technology progressed, NORAD began putting their Santa Tracker online so that anyone in the world could follow along. It’s a great site for kids, so make sure to bookmark it.
Now Andrew Hough, of the Telegraph UK, reports this has become one of the most popular web sites in the world.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has employed all its hi-tech equipment to follow Father Christmas as he, and his reindeer, travel the globe delivering presents.
Since its development three years ago, the Norad Father Christmas Tracker has become an internet sensation with close to a two billion hits.
Children can track Father Christmas through social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and TroopTube.
His progress can also be tracked with three dimensional “Father Christmas Cams”. Google will use its mapping service to give up-to-the-date analysis on where he is. This year will include streaming video of his journey for the first time.
“There are a lot of people who follow this in different ways,” said Lt. Desmond James, a public affairs officer with NORAD, which is also responsible for defending the US and Canada from incoming nuclear missiles.
Staff answer almost 100,000 phone calls and receive more than 140,000 emails from families around the world.
Father Christmas started his journey at 0900 GMT from his base at the North Pole. According to NORAD, Father Christmas usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west.
He generally visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia, before heading to Japan, the rest of Asia, Africa, Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico before finishing in Central and South America.
“But keep in mind, Santa’s route can be affected by weather, so it’s really unpredictable,” a NORAD spokesman said.
“NORAD coordinates with Santa’s Elf launch staff to confirm his launch time, but from that point on, Father Christmas calls the shots. We just track him.”
Norad claim they employ radar and satellites to track the infrared signal given off by Rudolph’s nose.
“NORAD tracks Father Christmas, but only Father Christmas knows his route, which means we cannot predict where and when he will arrive at your house,” he said.
“We do, however, know from history that it appears he arrives only when children are asleep.
“In most countries, it seems Father Christmas arrives between 9:00pm and midnight on December 24th. If children are still awake when Father Christmas arrives, he moves on to other houses. He returns later … but only when the children are asleep.”
The tradition dates back to 1955 when a Colorado Springs store ran an advertisement encouraging local children to call a special telephone hot line.
A printing error meant that the phone number for the Director of Operations at Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) was published instead, leading to the centre being inundated by calls from excited youngsters.
The head of the CONAD, which later became NORAD, instructed his staff to give the children updates on Santa’s position and the tradition was born.
They now offer the service to children around the world via a google earth map, providing the information in seven languages including English, Spanish and Chinese.
Col. John Bartholf, a commander with the New York Air National Guardsmen from the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) added: “I can assure everyone that EADS will do everything in its power to assist Father Christmas with this critical mission.”
EADS’ Sector Operations Control Center (SOCC) will monitor Father Christmas constantly as he delivers toys and gifts.
What’s that? Your laughing at all this? You don’t believe in Santa Claus? You think this is all just a giant waste of resources?
You’re a doofus.
No less venerable a source than the 1897 New York Sun let it’s most veteran newsman, Francis Pharcellus Church, respond to one of the most famous letters in the history of journalism.
“DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
“Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
“Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
“Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
“115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.”
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
So there, take that!