Following Santa's Sleigh


I still believe in Santa. If you think there is no Santa - despite having watched Miracle on 34th Street - then further evidence comes from very serious organizations like NORAD and Google putting forward their technology to track him on his Christmas Eve. If there is no Santa, why would they go to all this trouble? And then, who are they tracking?

This year the Google Santa tracker allows us to look at Santa’s dashboard (the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey) on Christmas Eve. Apparently, Google has been given access by one of Santa’s many developer elves, who are hard at work in the North Pole helping Santa prepare for his big day. Santa’s dashboard uses Google Maps technology (naturally) which will allow you to follow his progress around the world, and also learn a little about some of his stops along the way.

If you click into the site before he takes off, you can explore Santa’s village while Santa gets ready. There are probably some fun activities and some some interesting elves there now.

And if Google doesn't give Santa the stamp of authenticity, then certainly NORAD must. The fact that North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) uses its super-high-tech equipment to track Santa is further proof of his existence, and it also makes me feel better about Santa's safety while in the air. Santa's sleigh and reindeer show up quite clearly on their radar.

Every year our ability to go online and follow Santa gets more sophisticated. Web cams and videos, information about locations, precise timings that allow kids to know just when they need to be in bed and asleep so that Santa can come to their home.

If your kid is a math whiz and he's figuring that since the world’s population is growing as you read this, and Santa has to deliver more toys in the same amount of time, how is it possible? Well, that's where the magic of Santa comes in. NORAD actually made a calculation last year and said that Santa is somehow able to make stops at homes in about three ten-thousandths of a second. I think it involves quantum mechanics and time travel, but after all, he has been doing this for 16 centuries, so...

Do you adults out there think NORAD has better things to do? Well, they are doing those things too, but the Santa project started more than 50 years ago. NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have been tracking the sleigh and reindeer since 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline."  Yipes! The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

Obviously, NORAD, Google, Santa and most of us are using social media too. You can follow Santa via NORAD on Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter too.  But be sure to step away from the computer and smartphones and enjoy Christmas Eve. And don't forget the milk and cookies and a carrot for the reindeer.


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