An inside look at the single largest public outreach program for the Department of Defense — and the Pentagon’s most elaborate propaganda operation.
But the number printed in the newspaper in December 1955 had a digit wrong — and was instead the direct line into the secret military nerve center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where the Pentagon was on the lookout to prevent nuclear war. The Air Force officer and World War II fighter pilot who took the first call that day for Father Christmas thought it was a crank — and Col. Harry Shoup sternly said so.
“The little kid started crying,” Shoup’s daughter, Terri Van Keuren, recalled in an interview. “So Dad went into his ‘Ho ho ho’ and got the kid’s list.”
Sixty-two years later, the Continental Air Defense Command is now the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and its interactive NORAD Tracks Santa has become the largest single public outreach program for the Defense Department. It’s also, you might say, the Pentagon’s most elaborate propaganda operation.
On Christmas Eve, while monitoring the heavens for North Korean missile launches or Russian military aircraft flying too close to the U.S. or Canada, NORAD will also be reporting the progress of Santa and his reindeer as they travel from the North Pole around the world delivering presents and holiday cheer. It will correlate the jolly elf’s journey with its network of 47 radar stations, spy satellites in “geosynchronous” orbit 22,300 miles above the earth, fighter jets and a suite of special high-tech “SantaCams.” Or so the publicity stunt’s plan goes.
“The moment our radar tells us that Santa has lifted off, we begin to use the same satellites that we use in providing warning of possible missile launches aimed at North America,” says NORAD’s detailed 14-page internal handbook for the operation, which is replete with Santa stats (first flight believed to be Dec. 24, 343 A.D.) and even talking points for that uncomfortable question many parents also confront: “Is there a Santa Claus?”
It’s all part of the ornamented script that more than 1,500 volunteers — including the four-star general in charge of defending North America — are using to field an anticipated 150,000 calls and an avalanche of emails and social media posts (2 million Facebook followers so far) who are all seeking to locate Ole St. Nick on his starlight odyssey.
“As soon as you’re hanging up there’s another kid wanting to talk to you,” Preston Schlachter, NORAD’s Track Santa program manager and its director of community outreach, said of the 23-hour period leading up to Christmas when volunteers work in two-hour shifts, backed up by dozens of sponsors ranging from Microsoft to the National Defense Industrial Association, Taco Bell and the local Amy’s Donuts in Colorado Springs.
In the past, VIPs like former first lady Michelle Obama have also taken a turn at the phones.
“It is the best two hours you’ll ever experience,” Schlachter added in an interview. “You are getting these calls from all over the world. One of the coolest things I like about the program is the multi-generational aspect of it. We are seeing feedback on social media, people who call in and tell us they tracked Santa when they were kids and they’ve introduced it to their kids and now they’re introducing it to their grandkids.” Read the rest of this entry »
- 8 servings (1 1/2 cups mix)
- ACTIVE TIME
- 10 minutes
- TOTAL TIME
- 10 minutes
- For the hot chocolate mix:
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup high-quality cocoa powder
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- For the hot chocolate:
- 1 cup whole milk
- Whipped cream, marshmallows, and cocoa powder (for serving)
Original newspaper strip by Stanley Smith, source unknown
PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 23 (UPI) — An Oregon man was filmed doing his part to keep Portland weird by dressing up as a Scottish Santa and playing flaming bagpipes while riding a unicycle.
Brian Kidd, aka The Unipiper, posted a video to YouTube showing him ringing in the holiday season in a festively eccentric fashion.
The video shows Kidd riding a unicycle while dressed as Santa from the waist up and a kilt-sporting Scotsman from the waist down. Read the rest of this entry »
Stephen Gutowski writes: It’s almost time for Santa Claus to make his annual trip around the globe to deliver presents for all the good little boys and girls. However, before he gets started, he’s blowing off some steam at the range with a bunch of silenced rifles, shotguns, handguns, and machine pistols.
“Unfortunately, the ATF have regulated them so much I can’t give them out to all the good little boys and girls.”
Or, at least, that’s how the latest ad from SilencerCo depicts things.
The video features Santa and Rudolph shooting a variety of silenced firearms out in the snowy North Pole.
“I used to have some pretty boring hobbies like whittling, baking, but then in the 9th century a magical thing happened: the Chinese invented a little thing called gun powder.”
“My name is Saint Nicholas,” Santa says in the video. “Most of you know me as Santa Claus. My job definitely comes with a lot of stress, but we all have our own ways of relieving that stress.”
“I used to have some pretty boring hobbies like whittling, baking, but then in the 9th century a magical thing happened: the Chinese invented a little thing called gun powder,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTO] International Space Station Decorated with Christmas Stockings: ESA Astronaut Samantha CristoforettiPosted: December 25, 2014
ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is in the holiday spirit as the International Space Station is decorated with stockings for each crew member and a tree.
13 December 1961 President and Mrs. Kennedy with the 1961 White House Christmas Tree. White House, Blue Room. Photograph by Robert Knudsen, Office of the Naval Aide to the President, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
We’re supposed to believe the Kochs are evil but leftist billionaires are disinterested givers?
Matthew Continetti writes: Some lies just won’t go away. In February the Washington Post published an article with the following headline: “Why There’s No Democratic Version of the Koch Brothers’ Organization.” It was the umpteenth attempt to explain, in a particularly simplistic manner, how the millionaires and billionaires who donate money to the Democratic party are nothing, absolutely nothing, like those meanie cancer-research philanthropists Charles and David Koch.
“Does Reid Wilson believe in Santa Claus? His willingness to suspend disbelief when confronted with the image of a mythic creature — the un-self-interested liberal — suggests as much. The words “labor” and “union” appear nowhere in his article, despite the fact that unions are six of the ten top all-time donors…”
The author, Reid Wilson, interviewed “Democratic strategists who deal frequently with high-dollar donors,” and these Democratic strategists told him, strategically, that their high-dollar donors are better than Republican ones. “For the Koch brothers, electing the right candidate can mean a financial windfall,” Wilson wrote. “Democratic donors revolve more around social issues.” On the one hand you have petty, greedy rich men, and on the other you have committed liberals willing to sacrifice for causes they believe in. The morality play writes itself. Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew Sheffield reports: Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly took on the left-wing hate mob that has come after her following a humorous segment that she featured on her program Wednesday evening in which she and her guests staged a mock debate over the racial identity of Santa Claus.
To the haters, Kelly had a message tonight: Lighten up and learn to realize what satire is. “Humor is a part of what we try to bring to this show but sometimes that is lost on the humorless,” she said.
Since the Wednesday segment, an absurd controversy has been swirling around the newly minted primetime host in which Foxophobic television and internet outlets seemed unable (or unwilling) to comprehend that the entire segment, which began with a satirical disclaimer to “kids at home” that Santa was white and did exist, was not to be taken seriously.
Neha Prakash reports: Airports are perhaps the least jolly of locales during the holiday season, generally filled with disgruntled people facing delays, lost luggage and other mishaps. But, thanks to WestJet, one gaggle of weary travelers was treated to a Christmas miracle that turned an airport into Santa’s workshop.
The Canadian airline, with the help of a virtual and tech-savvy Santa Claus, learned what passengers at the Toronto and Hamilton International Airports — who were waiting to board flights to Calgary — had on their Christmas wishlists this year. Once everyone boarded their planes, the WestJet team also took off — on shopping sprees, that is.
The more than 150 WestJet employees played the part of Santa’s elves, gathering personalized presents, wrapping them and delivering them to the Calgary airport before the unsuspecting recipients landed. Upon arrival, the travelers received nothing short of a holiday miracle at baggage claim.
The entire event was captured via hidden cameras and turned into an ad mimicking the poem commonly known as The Night Before Christmas.
By Friday evening, nearly every cable news commentator on the planet had gotten a chance to weigh in on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. But none of them had a take quite like that of Dr. Cornel West, who joined Jake Tapper on CNN to denounce what he sees as the “Santa Claus-ification” of the South African leader.
Asked if Mandela’s passing has caused the media to “cover up” how some people, especially those on the right in American politics, viewed him in the not-so-distant past, West answered affirmatively. “I think no doubt we are,” he said. Calling Mandela a “spiritual giant, moral titan and political revolutionary,” West described what we are now witnessing as a “Santa Claus-ification” of his legacy.
NORAD’s Santa Tracker: Fanciful ‘Fighter Jet Escort’ for Santa Under Fire from Child Psychologists and Public Health Experts?
It was only a matter of time before some humorless finger-wagging scolds indulged their paranoia and accused the government of sponsoring a harmful military-industrial brainwashing campaign against children (to induce them into military service later in life?) and succeeded in getting the media to pay attention.
I think we should celebrate when these imaginary grievances make national news. It reveals how silly the academics, psychologists, and culture warriors can get. When allowed to walk outside of their University offices and talk to members of the press, without supervision, they unintentionally provide us with comedy gold.
One of the advocates of this campaign, Amy Hagopian, a professor of public health at the University of Washington, should be
fired given a toy airplane, a basket of candy canes, some cupcakes, and a yo yo. Then taken on a trip to the zoo, then taken out for an ice cream, and read a bedtime story. She deserves a happy childhood, but perhaps didn’t get one. I propose that we bury her in love, kindness, and holiday cheer, ’cause she needs it. Send her an email, let her know what you think.
Without NORAD’s official protection, securing North American airspace for Santa and his reindeer, Santa’s annual global delivery route–and Santa himself– could be at risk! I hope the fine men and women at NORAD ignore the Scrooges and screwballs, and continue their volunteer efforts to keep Santa’s supply routes open and safe! Props to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, for standing his ground in this (manufactured) controversy. A fictional controversy about an imaginary NORAD mission. It’s perfect.
WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Some child advocates are upset that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is providing Santa Claus with a fighter jet escort around the globe in this year’s tracking program.
Since 1955, NORAD Tracks Santa has been operated by the joint U.S.-Canada command. Its purpose is to provide children with information and details about Santa’s whereabouts as he drops off presents around the world.
This year’s program depicts Santa flying over snow-capped mountain peaks with a military aircraft keeping up with him on either side.
A Santa Claus hired by Hanover Mall to spread Xmas cheer finds himself in hot water after spreading some unwanted cheer to an 18-year-old elf. 62-year-old Herbert G. Jones of Assonet was arrested at about 5:30 p.m on Saturday after police say his elf photographer lodged a complaint. The part time Kris Kringle now faces indecent assault and battery charges, authorities say.
Cherry Hill Photos, the company that employs Santa and his helper, released the following statement: “We have been made aware that an allegation of improper conduct has been lodged against the person portraying Santa at Hanover Mall by another employee working at the Santa photography concession. This allegation has been denied by the individual portraying Santa. Both persons are employed by Cherry Hill Photo, a New Jersey company specializing in providing Santa Photographic services to the mall during the holiday season. A spokesperson for Cherry Hill Photo has informed us that a comprehensive background report had been completed on the individual portraying Santa. The report indicates that he is clear of any prior arrests or convictions. The investigation is ongoing.”