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.)
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.”