Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic December 18, 2013 - 12:45 pm

U.S. child advocacy group slams NORAD’s Arctic Santa tracker

"The military has no business marketing to children"

SARAH ROGERS
This NORAD video shows Santa's sleigh flanked by two Canadian military jets.(YOUTUBE IMAGE)
This NORAD video shows Santa's sleigh flanked by two Canadian military jets.(YOUTUBE IMAGE)

This year, it looks like Santa’s sleigh will be guided by more than just eight reindeer and Rudolph’s shiny nose.

According to a new video posted to the North American Aeropsace Defense Command (NORAD) website that tracks Santa’s whereabouts each Christmas Eve, he’ll also be flanked by two military fighter jets.

And that’s a move that has created controversy this year from an American children’s advocacy group.

The Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood says the video brings militarism and violence to an otherwise peaceful family tradition.

“It’s a backdoor way to market to children, and the military has no business marketing to children,” campaign spokesperson Josh Grolin told CNN earlier this month.

About five seconds of the 39-second video called “NORAD Tracks Santa Trailer Video 2013” shows two fighter jets — Canadian Air Force CF-18s — flying alongside Santa’s sleigh over an Arctic landscape.

NORAD, which monitors Canadian airpsace, has since downplayed the controversy, noting the jets are unarmed and insisting the video is safe and non-threatening for children to watch.

In 2012, the NORAD site has more than 22 million visitors from 235 countries.

NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defence Command has tracked Santa’s Christmas journey for more than 50 years.

The tradition begin in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based company misprinted a phone number for children to call Santa Claus in one of its advertisements.

Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put calls through to CONAD’s operations hotline.

The director at the time has his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole, and a tradition was born.

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