By Jackie Burrell
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 at 11:10 am in Christmas.
It’s almost time for what may be one of the most charming federal government traditions around. For the last 50 years, NORAD has tracked Santa’s progress around the world. Seems back in 1955, Sears Roebuck & Co. ran an ad with Santa’s phone number, but they accidentally transposed some digits and ran the hotline number for the commander-in-chief of NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), instead. So operations director Colonel Harry Shoup had his staff check the radar and give children, who called, updates on Santa’s progress from the North Pole. NORAD volunteers – staff, family and friends (see photo below) – have been doing it ever since, answering phones, e-mails and now posting updates online. This year, they’re counting down the days till sleigh time with an entire North Pole village-full of children’s activities. Click on the clock tower and you can light up a Christmas tree by connecting all the electrical wires (folks, it’s hard – I’d still be working on the puzzle, but I have deadlines to meet!), an ornament game, music making and various other puzzles and activities. Very fun.