Despite the partial government shutdown there is at least one critical service that remains operational: NORAD’s Santa tracker.
Even though Washington is gridlocked, there are over 1500 military personnel and volunteers at an air force base in Colorado working hard during Christmas Eve. They will be busy tracking Santa and answering phone calls of children.
In the event of a government shutdown, NORAD will continue with its 63-year tradition of NORAD Tracks Santa on Dec. 24. Military personnel who conduct NORAD Tracks Santa are supported by approximately 1,500 volunteers who make the program possible each and every year. pic.twitter.com/fY0oyjrdDc
— NORAD & USNORTHCOM (@Norad_Northcom) December 21, 2018
Norad’s Santa tracker is a tradition that goes back to the Cold War. It’s an awesome service where volunteers answer thousands of calls and emails from all around the world. Some of the things children do include ask for the location of Santa, send detailed Christmas lists and ask the volunteers for other details.
There is even a handbook on how to handle the different kinds of requests according to Politico.
If not for a typo in a local newspaper in 1955, the volunteers who take two-hour shifts in the early morning on December 24 wouldn’t be there.
How this service came to be, per NPR.org:
When Col. Harry Shoup picked up his secret hotline at Peterson Air Force in Colorado, he was expecting a call from a four-star general at the Pentagon, according to a 2014 StoryCorps interview with his children.
“And then there was a small voice that just asked, ‘Is this Santa Claus?’ ” his daughter, Pam Farrell says.
His family says that Shroup was annoyed. The United States was nearly a decade into the Cold War, and the colonel was prepared for reports of a nuclear attack, not requests for Santa Claus.
But when the child started to cry, he responded jovially. Then he asked for the boy’s mother.
The mother explained that a Sears ad in the newspaper instructed kids to call Santa “any time day or night.” But the newspaper had accidentally printed the number for Shoup’s private red phone, instead of the store’s.
So as the calls came in, Shoup put his airmen on the phones to pretend to be Santa Claus.
It’s good to see this service continue, despite the struggle in Washington.