Santa and NORAD

This is a great Christmas tale that could read like fiction but is as real as it comes.

As the story goes, back in 1955, in the middle of the Cold War, when tensions were high and the Air Force’s NORAD was the front line warning system watching and ready to respond to a nuclear attack coming toward us from Russia, a perfect storm of innocence broke into that tension and continues to do so for children today.

Photo: YouTube/CBC News

It took an ad from Sears and Roebuck with a phone number to contact Santa, a pair of young sisters who dialed the number, and an understanding NORAD Commanding Officer to turn a potential disaster into an annual, joyful experience for children across the country.

The sisters called the number in the Sears ad in a local Colorado Springs newspaper hoping to speak to Santa. But the misprinted telephone number was a number so secret that only a handful of people were supposed to know it. It connected to a “Red” phone at the NORAD base. When the CO answered that phone that day, he did so with a racing heartbeat, because that phone could only mean that WWIII was starting.

Photo: YouTube/CBC News

Instead, he heard a small child’s voice saying, “Is that you, Santa?” He thought it was a joke in bad taste, but then he heard her begin to cry. He quickly pretended to be Saint Nick and listened dutifully to her Christmas list. He then asked to talk to her mom, who informed him about the Sears ad and the phone number.

Photo: YouTube/CBC News

The CO organized a number of airmen to answer the phone as the calls started to come in from kids across the country to talk to Santa.

This misprinted phone number, that first innocent phone call, and the kindly reaction of that CO turned into the annual NORAD Christmas Eve and Christmas Day tracking of Santa’s journey across the world.

Merry Christmas to all of America and to all of our military and their families.

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