Did Kris Kringle’s microbrew tastes help set his itinerary?
Gerry Strang, esq., Legal Editor
Santa may have highlighted certain stops on his holiday run this year based on his love of certain Wisconsin microbrews, according to an independent investigation by Valley Sentinel. Santa’s preferences may have provided increased media exposure to two Wisconsin villages by Santa including these destinations on an itinerary supplied to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, the investigation found.
Each year, NORAD, presents increasingly elaborate data to the public concerning the trajectory of Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. What reportedly began with a little girl’s accidental call to NORAD’s precursor, the Continental Air Defense Command, on November 30, 1955, has evolved into a multimedia presentation of NORAD’s live tracking of Santa over various platforms. This year, visitors to noradsanta.org could watch in real time as the jolly old elf went about his rounds, delivering, according to the website’s final tally, some 7,623,696,221 gifts.
According to U.S. Air Force Capt. Nathanael Calllon, a public affairs officer for the program, 2020 statistics will not be available for a few days, but in 2019 he said, their volunteer call center had received 165 thousand inquiries for Santa’s location, and 1.8 million inquiries were relayed by Amazon Alexa smart speakers. The number of unique visitors to the tracking website has exceeded 20 million in its best years.
NORAD’s Santa-tracking website offers two- and three-dimensional options for interactively watching Santa on his route, or scanning the globe. Since 2012, the tracker has shown areas as they appear in aerial photography, but with borders and place names and no clouds. On Christmas Eve, the tracker continuously noted the last place visited by Santa and his next stop, its distance and time to arrival. After Santa visited any given city or town a link would activate, directed to either a wikipedia page or a video regarding the locality.
Those watching Santa on Christmas Eve may have been surprised that Santa was shown apparently bypassing some major population centers. In Wisconsin, the only municipalities where Santa was depicted as stopping were the villages of New Glarus and Amherst.
According to Callon, this anomaly does not mean Santa did not visit other locales, nor that NORAD lost track of Santa, but rather that the display of information had to be simplified.
“Santa visits so many places, so fast, that if we tried to show them all, it would overload our system,” said Callon.
Therefore, he said, the display was limited to those places showing Santa’s general itinerary. This also explains why the path depicted is sometimes erratic. Santa could have stopped in Chicago on the way from Peoria to Munster, Indiana, but chose to hit Chicago between the two Wisconsin villages, seemingly adding almost 200 miles to his flightpath. In reality, though, Santa’s route is just much more thorough and complex than the tracker shows.
Even Santa’s simplified route showed travel at speeds above Mach 8, faster than America’s quickest jets. According to the NORAD website, Santa’s top speed is actually “faster than starlight” and he sometimes slows down to allow U.S. fighters to provide him an escort.
Callon said Santa provides his simplified route each year to NORAD in advance. But if Santa was in fact visiting hundreds of thousands of homes across Wisconsin, why only inform NORAD of key stops in New Glarus and Amherst? NORAD could not provide any information as to how Santa chose which sites to include, and directed inquiries to the North Pole.
Marcy Peterson, Clerk/Treasurer for Amherst, said she believed the Village had not made any arrangement with Santa for his visit there to be highlighted. A call to the Village Clerk in New Glarus produced a similar response. Asked if she thought there might be a connection to the fact that both towns are home to celebrated microbreweries, Peterson said, “I like that explanation, because we do have Central Waters Brewery here, but I cannot confirm that.”
Valley Sentinel was unable to reach a manager at Central Waters Brewing in Amherst, but worker Emily Gryga said she believed that her superiors at the brewery had indeed made prior contact with Santa. She stated that Kris Kringle does have a fondness for their Pecan Kringle Stout, but at Christmas, it is their Vanilla Cherry Stout that Gryga says “keeps his cheeks nice and rosy.”
And even though Santa makes his stops with supernatural speed, she felt sure he had been at the brewery, saying she had heard the reindeer, “when they land, it really reverberates through the tanks.”
Dennis Rufener of New Glarus Brewing said that New Glarus definitely had dealings with the Jolly Old Elf. Not only is Santa a customer, but this Christmas he brought the brewery a present.
“He had his sleigh loaded up with fresh Door County cherries to help us make our Belgian Red,” said Rufener.
Santa has not yet availed himself for an interview, so it remains a matter of speculation just to what extent his Christmas Eve flight through the state was constructed around visits to these breweries, but it can be concluded with some certainty that he is aware of Wisconsin microbrews, enjoys them, and wishes them well.
Editor’s note: Thank you to the sources who contributed to this report, it is intended to be a satirical column.