BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON - This evening, children around the world are tracking the progress of Santa Claus using the NORAD Santa tracker. A tradition for more than fifty years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command watch on Santa's location has become increasingly embellished in the Internet era, and this year Santa may even be tracked using Google Earth.
While the practice of a bi-national (United States and Canada) government agency charged with defending the airspace of North America against outside attack tracking Santa Claus may seem more than a bit strange, its origins date back all the way to 1955. As told in a number of radio interviews this year and on the NORAD web site, in that year a Sears Roebuck & Company store in Colorado Springs, Colorado ran an ad to call a number to talk to Santa--except that they gave the wrong number, a NORAD number (the commander-in-chief "hotline", no less). Realizing the gravity of the situation, what was then "CORAD" acted with creativity and soon was reporting on Santa's location for all calls to that number. The idea was so appealing that it became an annual tradition.
It's probably a good thing that the tradition started in 1955. In this politically correct era, it is unimaginable that--even with the corporate sponsorship that funds the activity today--anything related to government could have anything to do with Santa Claus. Even today, I am surprised that they can print on their web site that "It’s hard to know for sure, but NORAD intelligence indicates Santa is AT LEAST 16 centuries old."
Last I checked, Santa was between Missoula, Montana and Calgary, Alberta--I hope all the children in the Mountain Time Zone are already in bed, and those in the Pacific Time Zone better head for the sheets pretty soon--after leaving out their milk and cookies. NORAD reports that Santa has eaten over 38,000 already tonight...