Archived Story

Even Santa cannot escape technology

Published 7:05pm Saturday, December 17, 2011

It seems to be fittingly ironic that some of our nation’s most high-tech tools are being used to track perhaps the most low-tech individual in the world.

But, maybe that is just one more part of the Christmas magic of Santa Claus. The North American Aerospace Defense Command, the agency commonly known as NORAD and created more than five decades ago to protect the airspace of the United States and Canada, takes on a slightly different role each year in late December.

The agency uses its radar and other devices to track the jolly old fat man as he makes his Christmas Eve journey around the world.

This started in 1955 when a newspaper ad told children they could call Santa at the North Pole — but the number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. Thus began the tradition which NORAD has carried on ever since.

If you have any children who are nearing that age of non-belief just visit to monitor Santa’s progress of spreading holiday cheer.

It would be difficult to find anyone more averse to high-tech gadgets like what NORAD uses than old St. Nick.

Think about it. He doesn’t own a car, instead opting for reindeer and a sleigh. He uses elves to build his toys rather than creating an assembly line factory. And he twice checks his list — still on paper instead of an iPad or some other fancy computer.

Maybe it is time for Santa to join the 21st Century but, until he trades Rudolph in for a Ferrari, you can use the NORAD website to keep tabs on him.

The site offers lots of things for children — and to bring out the children in all of us.

It features a countdown calendar, a kid’s countdown village complete with holiday games and activities that change daily, and video messages from students and troops from around the world.

Most everyone knows the true reason for the season, but there’s nothing wrong with using some high-tech toys to keep that Christmas season going strong.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at


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