The US military is following an elderly man with a white beard and a big belly named Saint Nicholas.
However, there’s no reason to be alarmed, Air Force General Glen D. VanHerck said.
Indeed, this is a Christmas tradition that reaches its 65th year. The North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint US-Canada operation protecting the skies of both countries, has been following the legendary merry old man since a child mistakenly called the base in 1955, asking to speak to Santa.
The Colorado Springs, Colorado base was used to monitor for signs of a nuclear attack. But this year, base officers are making sure the coronavirus The pandemic will not exclude Santa and his reindeer, as the storybooks say, who deliver gifts to children around the world.
While Santa’s Monitoring Operations Center usually has around 1,500 volunteers receiving calls from around the world, this year has declined due to COVID-19 concerns with few people in the center and many answering calls remotely. With the smaller operation, they also added a voicemail for callers who do not reach an operator.
But as cases continue to grow around the world, the question arises: Will Santa be able to bring us our gifts safely?
“Santa has been doing this for many, many years, as you know, and he has already faced pandemics and challenges around the world. I’m one hundred percent sure Santa knows exactly how to stay safe, ”VanHerck said.
Despite a unique Christmas season, the NORAD commander said he didn’t expect any interruptions to Santa’s storybook program.
“We expect Santa to arrive on time, to arrive somewhere between 9pm and midnight in every house. I would like to encourage all children to make sure they are in bed by 9pm so that Santa can stay on time, ”she said.
His other important message: you can still leave the cookies out.
This is VanHerck’s first year following Santa. The commander said it is an honor to be able to interact with people from all over the world and be part of a tradition that spans generations.
“Before I was the commander of NORAD, I had no idea how popular it really is and how many people have been doing it for decades since they were kids until now,” VanHerck said. “And so it’s really important to continue that tradition.”
VanHerck said he hopes following Santa can bring happiness to families during an unprecedented holiday season and after months of being stuck at home, especially for children who attend school remotely and can’t see their friends at home. because of COVID-19.
“We hope it brings some normalcy to their lives and some cheer during the holiday season,” VanHerck said. “As much as we can bring good news, fun to the family and all the children, it will be a great success.”
To receive real-time updates on Santa’s location, families can call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) and visit noradsanta.org.