The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Thursday issued a transit permit to Santa Claus to allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States for Christmas.
The permit issued to Mr. S. Nicholas Claus of the North Pole, a distributor with Gifts and Good Cheer, Inc., will allow reindeer to enter and exit the U.S. between 6 p.m. on Dec. 24, and 6 a.m. on Dec. 25, local time, through or over any U.S. border port.
“USDA is delighted to grant Mr. Claus and his reindeer a special permit to enter the United States, ensuring a seamless journey for the joy they bring each holiday season,” Jenny Lester Moffitt, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, said in a statement. “We extend a warm welcome to Mr. Claus and recognize the vital role of U.S. milk and cookies in fueling his festive flight.”
An inspection by veterinary officials ensured the reindeer met all entry requirements, and it was noted on the health certificate that one reindeer, named Rudolph, has a “minor physical anomaly.” APHIS said that “Rudolph’s red nose, while bright, was normal for him and not a concern.”
“At a recent inspection, the reindeer were found to be healthy and able to prance and paw with each hoof,” said Rosemary Sifford, USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer.
To protect the health of U.S. livestock, Mr. Claus was asked to disinfect his boots and thoroughly wash his hands. Port personnel will clean and disinfect the runners and underside of his wooden sleigh at the time of entry, and visually inspect his reindeer team.
“It’s important that Gifts and Good Cheer, Inc. take all the right steps and precautions to protect against the potential introduction of pests and diseases,” Mr. Claus stated. “I appreciate USDA’s assistance every year as we gear up for our big night.”
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), meanwhile, is preparing to track Santa’s flight. The tradition of NORAD tracking Santa Claus began in 1955 due to a serendipitous misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper advertisement. The advertisement from Sears Roebuck & Co. intended to give children a direct phone number to Santa Claus but mistakenly listed the number of the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center.
On Christmas Eve, Colonel Harry Shoup, the operations director at the time, received numerous calls from children eager to know Santa’s whereabouts. Instead of turning the children away, Colonel Shoup instructed his staff to check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. They provided updates on Santa’s location to every child who called in, and thus, a tradition was born.
The responsibility for tracking Santa was passed on to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) when it was formed in 1958 as a joint operation between the United States and Canada. NORAD used its cutting-edge technology, including radar and satellites, to continue the tradition of following Santa’s journey around the world each Christmas Eve.
Over the years, the program has grown significantly and embraced the internet, social media, and mobile technology to allow children and families worldwide to follow Santa’s progress in real-time. NORAD’s Santa tracking has become a cherished annual event, symbolizing goodwill and the festive spirit of the holiday season.
TMX contributed to this article