Yesterday I had the great honor of joining more than 60 kids from Spokane, Washington on a quick trip to the North Pole.
We flew, of course. On a special Alaska Airlines flight. And for most of those kids it was their first time going to the airport, the first time flying on a plane, and of course, the first time going to the North Pole. So Santa sent some elves to help out with some of the tricky parts, like going through security.
The North Pole was a magical as you’d think (more on that later in the week) but, because I was dressed as an (undercover) elf I was able to sneak into Santa’s Flight Center and snap a few photos that offer some insight into the Christmas Eve routine.
Thanks to the folks at the Spokane Fantasy Flight for letting me ride along. Especially, Tammikins, my elf guide there on the right.
A bit of aviation history, courtesy of NORAD, The North American Aerospace Defense Command. The agency launched its multi-lingual NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) Web site on Monday so that we can all stay up-to-date on Santa’s whereabouts.
Long before the Wright brothers flew the first airplane or the Montgolfier brothers launched the first hot air balloon, Santa had to find a way to travel from house to house at great speed. We know from our Santa Cam images that Santa’s choice for quick transportation was a herd of flying reindeer. Detailed information on these reindeer remains elusive….
NORAD’s Santa Cams will go into full swing on December 24th, but in the meantime, there’s lots more Santa-stuff on the site, including games, activities, and important facts about the roly-poly red-suited one (i.e. Is Santa real? What is Santa’s favorite candy cane flavor?)
Last year, the NTS site got more than 10.6 million visitors. But even before the Internet, the NORAD Tracks Santa program was immensely popular with kids of all ages. According to the site, it all started back on Dec. 24, 1955,
“…after an errant phone call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The call was from a local youngster who dialed a misprinted telephone number in a local newspaper advertisement. The commander who answered the phone that night gave the youngster the information requested – the whereabouts of Santa Claus. This began the tradition of tracking Santa Claus, a tradition that was carried on by NORAD when it was formed in 1958. This Christmas marks the 50th anniversary of NORAD tracking Santa Claus as he goes around the world delivering presents.