Monday, December 24, 2007

Today I Learned... Norad Santa

For that last few years, we've occasionally kept a web page up on as they track the big guy across the sky on Christmas Eve. Today's Seattle Post Intelligencer has the back story on how a huge military site got involved in the annual radar tracking of Santa Claus.

The story is here though my favorite part was about the first phone call they ever received.

"The red phone rang," he says. That never happened, and it meant huge trouble. The red phone was the emergency line: It could only be his commander calling, or the Pentagon. "I picked it up and I said: 'Yes, sir? This is Colonel Shoup.' "

There was no answer for a moment. Then came the hesitant voice of a small boy. "Are you really Santa Claus?"

Shoup was taken aback. "I looked around my staff and I thought, 'Somebody's playing a joke on me. This isn't funny.' I said, 'Would you repeat that, please?' "

The boy asked again if he was Santa Claus. "I knew then that there was some screw-up on the phones."

There certainly was. A local Sears Roebuck store had advertised a Santa line, on which children could talk to the man himself as he prepared for his rounds. But the wrong phone number had been published. Instead of talking to a Sears volunteer, the child unwittingly got through to one of the most important lines in America -- and certainly to one of the most uptight men in the country that Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

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