The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been on the job
tracking Santa's movements since the 1950s. Military radar tracks Santa
around the world from the time he leaves the North Santa Claus (Photo by DR04/Creative Commons via Wikimedia)Pole on his
world-wide journey. This year, due to all of the heightened security
alerts, the U.S. Air Force has ordered jets to escort the jolly old elf
as he tours the United States. This has led to some controversy. Does
Santa really need an escort?
The tradition of NORAD tracking Saint Nicholas began in 1955. Sears had printed an ad in a local newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colorado, promising kids that they could call and talk with Santa directly. The problem was that the phone number printed was the wrong one. Instead of talking with Santa they found themselves talking with the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center (the forerunner to NORAD). Colonel Harry Shoup, who was the man in charge that night, instructed his staff to give the children Santa's current location instead. Thus a holiday tradition was born. CONAD became NORAD in 1958. Canadian forces provide a similar service.
Santa and his Reindeer Being Escorted by Fighter Jets (You Tube Imaage)
The program has evolved with the times. A staff of volunteers not only answers phone calls, but field emails and updates the website. Parents and children can get "real time" updates on Santa's location.
The new video program that is running on the website today will still be showing Santa and the reindeer as they make their way on their annual journey. The difference is that they will have a couple of fighter jets, one on each side, to make sure that no one messes with the old man and his livestock. The idea is to give the whole thing more of a military operational feel.
The jets are also there to help keep Santa safe from straying into the dangers of restricted air space. Ground crews make sure that rooftops are checked out as safe for Santa to land.
NORAD's headquarters is located deep inside Cheyenne Mountain in
Colorado, one of the last vestiges of the Cold War, with a mission of
tracking and intercepting potential threats such as enemy aircraft or
missiles headed for the US,.
The controversy comes in when people are taking exception to adding the idea of destructive weaponry to the peaceful traditions of Christmas itself. Child psychologists and therapists say that taking something that children associate with presents and fun and now associating it with military action is out of line.
So do you think that this new military innovation to a tradition that has been around for nearly 60 years is possibly a detriment to children or are the experts much ado about nothing?
Sources: Boston Globe, Wikipedia