Santa Report owes its existence to a typo in a local newspaper in Omaha, Nebraska
. In the mid-Fifties, a local department store
had an actor impersonating Santa Claus
, that kids could call on Christmas Eve
. (Presumably, the guy told the kids that "he'd be right over" and tell them to get to bed early.)
Unfortunately, the number had one digit wrong, which yuppers, patched the rugrats into NORAD. The somewhat amused personnel, married and with kids themselves (as per regulation, according to then-current psychological theory) took to saying "Well, we're an Air Force base, not Santa Claus, but yes, we're tracking Santa right now." A few winters of this were enough to get everyone's story straight, and to retire the number (except for Santa reports). In 1958, they began releasing live reports to TV and radio stations, casting high-ranking (and often retired) officers as Santa experts, assuring all and sundry that Santa would get a "full NORAD welcome" (of escorting state-of-the-art fighter jets) if seen over US airspace. Creepy, when you think of it...