December 24

In 1955, NORAD began tracking Santa Claus as he made his way from the North Pole to his many destinations to deliver presents. The North American Aerospace Defense Command has kept this tradition alive using volunteers that handle phone calls and emails from more than 200 countries. Each year they handle approximately 20,000 emails and 70,000 telephone calls. Taxpayers do not pay for this service. The program stems from an advertisement from a Sears store in Colorado Springs that told children to call Santa Claus. However, the phone number was misprinted and the calls came to NORAD. The commander in charge that night directed his staff to give all children who called the “current location” for Santa Claus.

 

The crew of Apollo 8 became the first humans to orbit the moon in 1968. The crew consisted of Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders. They were also the first to travel beyond low Earth orbit, the first to see the Earth as a whole planet, and the first to see the far side of the Moon. The crew was also the first to see an Earthrise. Apollo 8 took three days to travel to the moon, orbited the moon ten times and made a Christmas Eve television broadcast which, at that time, was the most watched television broadcast ever. The crew was named Time magazine’s “Men of the Year” for 1968.

 

Birthdays Today

 

1905Howard Hughes, American businessman, engineer, and pilot (d. 1976)

1922Ava Gardner, American actress and singer (d. 1990)

1927Mary Higgins Clark, American author

1930Robert Joffrey, American dancer and choreographer (d. 1988)

1963Jay Bilas, American basketball player and sportscaster

Larry Moskal began his career as a Social Studies teacher in 1971. He graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in history and education. Larry taught Social Studies for the Ken-Ton School system, a suburban school system north of Buffalo, New York until 2005, and then taught and was the Dean of Students at San Miguel High School in Tucson. At Ken-Ton, he pioneered several online courses for high school students. In the 1980s, he spent three years teaching in Colombia, South America and spent four years at Lewiston-Porter High School. He currently is the PowerSchool Administrator for San Miguel accomplishing his work over the Internet.