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The Suburbanite
  • Frank Weaver, Jr: Tracking the Jolly Ol’ Elf, thanks to NORAD

  • Well, kids, this column’s for you. Now I know that many of you don’t read and don’t understand big fancy words yet, so I’ll try to keep the language down to earth to help you understand. If you can’t read, ask someone to read this to you.

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  • Well, kids, this column’s for you. Now I know that many of you don’t read and don’t understand big fancy words yet, so I’ll try to keep the language down to earth to help you understand. If you can’t read, ask someone to read this to you.
    You may recall a few Christmases ago I promised I’d write a report on the travels of that fat ol’ man with the beard who wears a red and white suit and guides a sleigh full of gifts to the rooftops of all good children … a sleigh that’s pulled by eight adult reindeer and a young one with a big red nose.
    Last year the dog heard rooftop noises and barked so loudly, she woke us up. By the time I looked out the window, the noise had stopped. In my stocking was a note. It read, “Dear Mr. Weaver. Please do something with your dog. This is the third year in a row she’s scared my team and I had to leave in a hurry. That’s why I couldn’t deliver all your gifts.”
    It was signed “SC.”
    So I had a good “dad to daughter” talk with Sadie Lou, our black Lab. Either she keeps quiet on Christmas Eve or into a kennel she goes.
    After I explained how Santa was one of the good guys and that scaring his reindeer could hamper his delivery of gifts to good girls and boys in the Portage Lakes and elsewhere, Sadie Lou hung her head in shame. She gave me her word (actually her bark) that she wouldn’t bark again on Christmas Eve as long as we tell her it’s Christmas Eve since she hasn’t yet learned how to read a calendar.
    Next I contacted NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command system that has been tracking Santa’s Christmas run ever since they developed and installed the equipment to do so back in 1955. I learned how to follow the sleigh, and I must say it was a lot of fun.
    It’s also fun for you if you follow his journey on a map as he crosses one nation after another. So gather a world map or a globe and track him as I tell you all about his trip.
    From the North Pole, Santa started out making stops first at Novoye Chaplino, Russia, on the very northeastern tip of that country. It’s just across the Bering Strait from Alaska. Next he traveled northwest to Bilibino, Russia, south to Yelizovo, northwest to Magadan, west to Yakutsk and then south and west to the rest of that huge country.
    Surprisingly, he’s so fast and his reindeer so swift, it only takes him a minute or two between cities and half that time to cover all the homes. It’s no wonder trying to see him was so hard as he made his rounds. Our eyes can’t work that fast. By the time we tried focusing on his sleigh, he was gone.
    Page 2 of 3 - Next he covered Japan, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and all nations in between. He went to China, India, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. He even stopped in the Middle East. There, he visited the manger in Bethlehem where Christ was born.
    As he hit Europe, he made a beeline for Turkey, where he once lived. At that time, more than 1,700 years ago, he was a gift-giving bishop known as Nicholas. Next on his schedule were the Ukraine, Belarus, Moscow, and then west to Poland, Germany, Austria and south to Italy as he continued a course along the eastern coast of Africa to Cape Town and then up the western coast to Morocco.
    Crossing the Mediterranean Sea, he stopped in Spain, Portugal, France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and then west to Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Iceland and Greenland.
    By now his reindeer were tiring and a rest was needed. But Santa knew he had a long trip, so he put the sleigh on cruise control and tossed carrots to his team, which they caught in mid-air while Santa munched on chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies that Mrs. Claus had packed for the trip.  
    After stopping at all the homes along the east coast of South America, he hit the western coast and started north, delivering presents to Kids in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela and then northwest through Central America, including Mexico. Then he turned his sleigh east to cover Cuba and the West Indies. The next stop was in the United States.
    Now here’s where it gets so exciting.
    Starting in Key West, Fla., Santa and his team moved north along the eastern coast. It was pushing midnight, but that didn’t stop ol’ Santa. He continued to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Cape Cod, Boston and Maine before heading north to Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa.   
    At this point, I thought he’d head straight to Ohio, but once again, he had me fooled. Instead he continued west, crossed part of the Great Lakes and then stopped at Grand Rapids, Detroit and the Ronald McDonald House at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich. Heading east to Erie, Penn., he covered all the cities on the western side of that state. When he finished he turned his sleigh west and took in the Ohio cities of Youngstown, Cleveland, Akron, Portage Lakes, Canton, Wooster and Columbus before heading south again to Hurricane, WV.
    Now as near as I could tell, he hit the Portage Lakes between 12:14 and 12:17. He only needed a few minutes, but that’s all he ever needs. Surprisingly, it seems he remembered where our friends Dean and Sally Kitchen live because this is the first year he didn’t have to ask.  
    Page 3 of 3 - By that time I was so sleepy I hit the sack and snored throughout the night. I suppose he finished the west coast of our country, flew to Hawaii, then north to Alaska before calling it a night. I checked later, and according to NORAD Santa returned to the North Pole in the wee small hours of the morning after delivering billions of gifts. They also reported he was tired and sleepy, but nevertheless, safe and sound.
    When I woke up Christmas morning, Peggy said I kept her awake all night.
    “You chewed the dog out for scaring Santa every year and then you kept me awake by snoring,” she said.
    Sadie Lou, even though she kept her word and never barked when Santa arrived at our house, got her two cents in by barking in agreement with the wife.
    Boy, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t win!
    Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com

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