ICYMI News-Santa’s Helpers At NORAD Still On Duty

Christmas Canary. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

Not even a Bah Humbug Trump government shutdown will stop the 63 year tradition, and as NPR reports, “at least one critical service remains operational: NORAD’s Santa tracker.”

It all started in a misprinted 1955 Sears ad, telling children they could call Santa, day or night. The number dialed directly into the redline phone of Colonel Harry Shoup’s “secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command (NORAD), in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

According to the story relayed to StoryCorps by Col. Shoup’s three children, NPR reported in 2014, their dad “had two phones on his desk, including a red one,” one recalls. “Only a four-star general at the Pentagon and my dad had the number.”

“This was the ‘50s, this was the Cold War,” and then one day, “the red phone rings…and there was a small voice that just asked, ‘Is this Santa Claus?’”

“It got to be a big joke at the command center. You know, ‘The old man’s really flipped his lid this time. We’re answering Santa calls,’ ” Terri says.

“The airmen had this big glass board with the United States on it and Canada, and when airplanes would come in they would track them,” Pam says.

“And Christmas Eve of 1955, when Dad walked in, there was a drawing of a sleigh with eight reindeer coming over the North Pole,” Rick says.

“Dad said, ‘What is that?’ They say, ‘Colonel, we’re sorry. We were just making a joke. Do you want us to take that down?’ Dad looked at it for a while, and next thing you know, Dad had called the radio station and had said, ‘This is the commander at the Combat Alert Center, and we have an unidentified flying object. Why, it looks like a sleigh.’ Well, the radio stations would call him like every hour and say, ‘Where’s Santa now?’ ” Terri says.

“And later in life he got letters from all over the world, people saying, ‘Thank you, Colonel,’ for having, you know, this sense of humor. And in his 90s, he would carry those letters around with him in a briefcase that had a lock on it like it was top-secret information,” she says. “You know, he was an important guy, but this is the thing he’s known for.”

Watch: The History of NORAD Tracks Santa.

NORAD Tracks Santa
Published Dec 1, 2016

Col. Harry Shoup came to be known as the “Santa Colonel.” He passed away in 2009.

Kids today can call 1-877 HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to talk to NORAD staff about Santa’s exact location.

Peace and goodwill to all.

In the northern central region of Florida, in the city of Ocala, the police department in conjunction with anonymous donors spread cheer to their citizens in its 2nd annual Operation Secret Santa.

According to the OPD Facebook page, the officers distributed $5,200 in $100 bills throughout the city over a four day period.

Sometimes, even spreading holiday cheer, with a tear of happiness instead of a ticket.

Happy Christmas Eve

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