US officials: COVID, bomb cyclone won’t slow Santa’s travels

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. command / kəˈmænd / (n.) – a group of high-ranking military officers who give orders

    The two governments agreed to have a joint command at the border of the countries.

  2. snowfall / ˈsnoʊˌfɔl / (n.) – the amount of snow that falls into a particular area in a particular period

    The heavy snowfall last night left several houses in deep snow.

  3. mistakenly / mɪˈsteɪ kən li / (adv.) – in a manner that is unintentionally wrong

    I mistakenly put salt in my coffee instead of sugar.

  4. take hold / teɪk hoʊld / (idiom) – to become established or popular

    After a good marketing campaign, the tradition of buying KFC during the Christmas season took hold in Japan.

  5. on duty / ɒn ˈdu ti / (idiom) – working at a particular time

    The tired nurse can’t help but sleep while she’s on duty.


Read the text below.

The U.S. military agency known for tracking Santa Claus as he delivers presents on Christmas Eve doesn’t expect COVID-19 or the “bomb cyclone” hitting North America to affect Saint Nick’s global travels.

NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is responsible for monitoring and defending the skies above North America.

But the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based agency also runs the NORAD Tracks Santa service, which allows people to follow his Christmas journey through its website, social media channels and mobile app.

The agency planned to have about 1,500 volunteers working on Christmas Eve to field phone calls from children who want to know Santa’s location and delivery schedule.

Lt. General David Nahom, a NORAD official based in Anchorage, Alaska, said the pandemic has not affected Santa’s busy delivery schedule.

The freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall that’s disrupting holiday travel in the U.S. shouldn’t be a problem for a man who lives at the North Pole, Nahom said.

“I think Santa will be right at home with the Arctic weather that’s hitting into the lower 48,” Nahom said.

NORAD’s holiday tradition began in 1955 after a kid mistakenly called a Colorado military command asking to speak to Santa. More calls came in so the commander on duty assigned an officer to answer the Santa calls, and the tradition took hold.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Do you think it’s a good idea that a government office, such as NORAD, is spending money to make Santa Claus believable? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What government projects for children would you like your government to have? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Santa Claus is an imaginary person many children believe to be true. If you had children, would you like them to believe in Santa Claus? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Who is an imaginary person that children in your country believe to be true? What do you think is the reason parents want their children to believe that this imaginary person is true? Discuss.