Christmas is ever so close now and most people are getting in a Christmassy mood. Where in Europe it used to be all about the tree, decorations and presents, it now has become all about Santa Claus too. So what if you could tell the kids, you could track his journey from the North Pole to America…
Sixty years ago this month, near the height of the Cold War, Col. Harry W. Shoup started a Christmas tradition that continues to this day. It is actually quite a funny story.
Ent Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, homed Col. Harry W. Shoup, commander of Truax Field in Madison (chief of the combat operations center of the Continental Air Defense Command, or Conad). Part of his job was to give America’s defense establishment a more human face. Although his primary task was to give an early warning of a surprise attack on America, he became known for quite something else.
In his office stood the famous “red” phone, to be used to make “the” decisions for an attack if needed. Imagine his surprise when it rang and a child asked him to speak to Santa Claus. The one to blame was the local Sears Roebuck store, its publication of the number “ME 2-668” on their poster, inviting kids to call Santa on his private phone, so they could talk to him, day or night…
Immediately realizing this could be the best positive CONAD publicity ever, the team even took it up to them to share Santa’s location with “every child who phoned in that night”.
Today children can just surf to http://www.noradsanta.org/ to trace Santa Claus’s journey to the United States. The website is now sponsored by many (Sears, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft…) but run by volunteers talking to children and receiving their emails. Children can explore the North Pole, follow the Santa tracker countdown, play games, watch movies, listen to music and loads more. Clicking on Norad HQ will show them secret Santa’s files and of course tell them the purpose of Norad: “We have the watch”.
You’ll spend some fun time on this website with kids, as this is the time to start tracking Santa, the countdown has begun!
Looking forward to the festivities, my mistletoe hanging up above the front door, I have to share this cute version of one of my sweet childhood memories, the song: “When I saw mummy kissing Santa Claus”:
Ready for the countdown?