On the night of Dec 24, into the wee hours of the morning on Dec. 25, Santa Claus will be entering homes and eating cookies before leaving behind mysterious packages under decorated trees.
There is no need to fear this gift-bearer and his small herd of reindeer, but nevertheless various agencies across the land have their eyes, and equipment trained on the North Pole waiting for any sign of movement.
“Unfortunately, with respect to our operational security, it is important to recognize that our mission in this subject cannot be spoken of. However, I can communicate that our Commander has asked for me to pass along his assurance that my fellow soldiers will remain vigilant each day and night until our mission has been completed,” said Nick Marshall, Sgt. 1st Class of the National Guard. “Citizens of Douglas County should sleep peacefully knowing that the National Guard is always ready and always there in response to any of our state’s emergencies.”
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, commonly known as NORAD, has radar and satellite imagery to help watch the skies for the yearly rash of home invasions. Every day of the year, NORAD defends North America using an all-domain and globally integrated approach to track everything that flies in and around Canada and the United States.
On Dec. 24, NORAD adds a special mission: tracking Santa, as it has every year since 1958 — when it took over the mission from its predecessor CONAD, who’d been tracking Santa since 1955. NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families across the world.
“While the tradition of tracking Santa began purely by accident, NORAD continues to track Santa,” the noradsanta.com website reads. “We’re the only organization that has the technology, the qualifications, and the people to do it. And, we love it! NORAD is honored to be Santa’s official tracker!”
The website launched on Dec. 1 and feature Santa’s North Pole Village, which includes a holiday countdown, games, a movie theater, holiday music, a store and more. The website is available in eight languages, according to Captain Alexandra Hejduk, the NORAD media operations officer.
There is little chance the people of Douglas County will be caught unaware when Santa arrives.
Rob Levin, Roseburg Regional Airport operator owner, said he’s counting on Santa to be especially careful during his approach and any landings in the “uncontrolled” airspace around the airport, which does not have an air traffic control tower managing incoming flights.
“We’re an uncontrolled airport. So, it’s the pilot’s responsibility to look and avoid,” Levin said. “Typically, who’s lower and slower has the right of way. Obviously, Santa would be more maneuverable and able to react quicker than aircraft landing at Roseburg Airport.”
The Roseburg airport offered Santa the ability to make advanced contact should he need assistance or clearance.
“We would count on Santa looking in his airport facility directory and contacting us if he has a problem,” Levin said. “I hope for unlimited visibility and safe flying on Christmas Eve.”
Umpqua Community College astronomy instructor Paul Morgan said the observatory will not be tracking Santa. “Unfortunately, even though Santa is a bit of a larger jolly fellow, he is much too small for our telescopes to track,” he said.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to inquiries from The News-Review, but in years past dispatch has advised law enforcement to be on the look out for the jolly male and his nine reindeer.
On Dec. 24, 2021, dispatch said, “If located, please provide him the best milk and cookies around and advise that we’ve all been very good this year.”
In the face of an invasion where almost no home is safe, the National Guard does have some tips.
“The children of Douglas County should be on their best behavior starting now and through the remainder of the holiday season,” Marshall said. “This is line of effort number one and all appropriate resources should be devoted for mission completion. Go to bed early. Each child needs to let their parents, grandparents and all family members over 30 years of age sleep in until at least 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 25 and remember to love each other and spread good cheer. Keep in mind the true meaning of this season and remain in the spirit.”
Marshall left the people of Douglas County with one final message as an entire nation holds its collective breath, listening intently for the sound of distant sleigh bells, “The command is also asking for assistance with coordinating efforts to leave a portion of cookies, milk and some vegetables if families have stock on hand. We cannot declassify the reasoning of this, but we feel this will bring about a desired outcome.”