Monday, December 12, 2005

I just saw something that reminded me of a neat trick I used to employ to chase the kids off to bed on Christmas Eve. It's worth passing on.

Some years ago they were antsy and sleepless as usual on Christmas Eve, and for some reason I remembered that a NORAD spokesman used to make an appearance on the news every Christmas Eve and announce that NORAD was tracking a curious object which appeared to be a number of reindeer towing a vehicle driven by a man in a red suit--or something to that effect. (this was back in the 60s, before Al Gore had invented the internet)

I'm sure someone at NORAD started the whole thing as a lark, but it eventually grew into an entire project in its own right. There is now an entire website devoted to "tracking Santa". There's a link from the official NORAD site, but you can also go straight to it at It's a nice site, with downloads, games, etc. as well as Christmas music performed by US and Canadian military bands (NORAD is a joint US/Canadian effort).

But the best part of the site is that they "track Santa". Beginning with the Aleutian Islands, there are periodic updates, narrated by various NORAD spokepersons, and "satellite images" are shown of his sleigh as it passes by landmarks. They throw in a little education in as well.

The website worked like a charm. The kids were wound up and didn't want to go to bed, but when NORAD announced that Santa was nearing the east coast of the US, they were off as though shot out of a cannon.

Oh, for what it's worth, the website is available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Japanese.

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