December 1st, 2009 | Published in Google Earth
As I slowly emerge from my tryptophan-induced coma, I find my thoughts drifting merrily toward the next holiday on the calendar. And, like any kid trapped in an adult's body, I have to admit that I'm no more immune to the heady anticipation of Santa's arrival than I was as a wide-eyed eight-year-old lad.
I remember putting up the tree, stringing the lights, and wrapping the presents, the smell of freshly-baked pies tickling my nose and the sound of Christmas carols floating through cinnamon air. My dad would hang a wreath on the front door. My mom would tie a big red bow on the dog. And, in a small digression from this Rockwellian scene, we would call NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, to track Santa.
Times have changed. Now, in addition to taking phone calls, NORAD shows Santa's location online at www.noradsanta.org. There you can view a collection of video snippets from Santa's journey last year, play holiday games (a new one released each day), receive updates from Santa's Village, and read a special tribute to Colonel Harry Shoup, the father of the program, who passed away this year.
Bookmark the site so you can visit often. And be sure to come back on Christmas Eve. That's when NORAD actively tracks Santa's journey in its entirety, from take-off to touch-down. You'll be able to view his position on a Google Map, in your browser with the Google Earth plug-in, and on most phones.
Happy holidays to all! (And to Santa... a good flight!)