Once upon a time, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD to its pals) was focused on Cold War threats such as bombers or ICBMs that might make an unannounced and very unwelcome appearance in our skies. But perhaps to prove that a military agency with such a grim purpose could have a sense of fun, NORAD would take a break from its round-the-clock death watch to offer Santa-loving children everywhere a taste of Christmas excitement.

And here we are on Christmas Eve, and NORAD’s got the news: Santa’s on his way. (Currently, NORAD tracking shows he’s visiting Finland. Next stop: Estonia.)

You can find out more at the agency’s NORAD Tracks Santa website (also available in Chinese, German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese).

Santa and all his California fans might be relieved to learn that our state bureaucracy has put out the official welcome mat for tonight’s planned visit. To be more specific, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has waived the usual animal-inspection requirements for the nine reindeer widely believed to be conveying the legendary Right Jolly Old Elf on his rounds this evening. Here’s the announcement:

California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Whiteford has granted a 24-hour permit clearing all brand inspection and health requirements for nine reindeer slated to visit California on the evening of December 24 and in the early morning hours of December 25.

The permit application was filed by a rotund, jolly man with a red face and a white beard. The signature on the paperwork reads “K. Kringle.”

Brand inspections and health requirements—which help veterinarians prevent the spread of animal disease—mandate that all animals entering California be individually identified. The nine reindeer named on the permit are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen and Rudolph.

The permit was granted under two conditions: the nine reindeer may not co-mingle with other reindeer in the state of California, and the visiting reindeer may not be used for breeding purposes while in the state.

“We are pleased and honored to issue the permit to Mr. Kringle,” said CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura. “As always, we wish him safe travels as he and his reindeer make deliveries to the good children of California.”

NORAD Tracks Santa; California Welcomes Reindeer 24 December,2010Dan Brekke


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area’s transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED’s comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

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