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Santa Claus prepares for alternative transportation

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A 3-part Christmas story for the young and the young at heart

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Slide show relates to part 2 & 3.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and Santa was sad.
He had wished for a small sportscar - an Audi TT at that!
There were dozens of cars all over his store:
Convertibles, hard-tops and roadsters galore.
All cars were ready and each had a tag
Marked “Cody” or “Francis” or “Tony” or “Pat”.
St. Nick looked them over, but none was for him.
His chances of getting that sportscar grew slim.

While searching he wondered: Was it too much to ask?
A good little sports car, not exceedingly fast.
Year after year he gave presents away,
Pleasing people, wherever, on this special day.
But never a bag or a box was for him.
The tags always read: “for Jane” or “for Jim”.
No one asked Santa what he wished for this year;
They always want things for themselves, that was clear.

Well, - Santa decided ‘twas time for a change,
Him wanting a motorized sleigh wasn't so strange.
He had been good, not doubt about that. ———
He passed by an Audi R8, tagged “for Pat”;
The car, painted silver, was streamlined and sleek.
St. Nick stepped closer and took a small peek.
The engine under the rear window - impressive; behold,
And Santa soon started feeling quite bold.

He opened the door, and he clambered inside.
”I’ll go for a spin, just a short little ride”
He thought to himself as he turned-on the key;
The engine was idling, Santa noticed with glee.
And he carefully backed the car out thru the door.
When out on the highway, Santa's foot hit the floor.
The R8, it roared, nearly took to the sky,
and Santa eased off and gave a big sigh.

He was driving a sportscar, but it was not his,
He must take it back in the condition it is.
But Santa was blissful and he drove for an hour,
the car handled great, and it had lots of power.
Somebody lucky will soon get this machine;
I now must return it, before I am seen.
Perhaps next year, St. Nick thought with glee
there may be a car for me under the tree.

If not a sportscar, OK, — but not an old lorry!
If I can’t get a car, many kids will be sorry.
He would have to use, he thought with disdain,
His team of slow moving reindeer again.
Eh! It came to him: What could be funner
Than to pull the sleigh with a Hummer.
Relieved, he called out, as he drove back inside
"Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good-night!"

It was a remarkable coincidence that at that very same time, several years ago, a number of individuals from Audi, and a film crew, were still working in the ‘Far North’. They had waited for the right weather conditions near the Arctic Circle to complete a sequel photo-shoot, fourteen years after the original one. That and the new one are part of advertisements for Audi, where a car with Quattro all-wheel-drive drives upwards on the ramp of a ski-jump. (When an Audi can do that, it can certainly pull a sleigh up onto a rooftop.) The newest Audi A6 Quattro drove up that ramp eleven times, not with a stunt driver, but with the confident engineer Uwe Bleck.

Observers speculated that Bleck had been asked to drive up the tower, instead of a factory test driver, because of his familiarity with these structures; his winter sport activity as an amateur is ski-jumping.

While the film crew and the helicopter were busy keeping up with the Audi on the ramp, one of the security guards on duty unexpectedly reported that he saw “another car with the same kind of grill” driving up the side of a nearby mountain.

Eva-Maria V., the attending Audi-Sport PR executive, later took a drive in that direction in her A4 Avant Quattro. To her amazement, she discovered a driveway with the sign “Santa Claus” and a mailbox with the Canada postal code H0H 0H0. Eva-Maria took a chance and entered the long, winding driveway.

From the ski-jump tower, the photo crew was able to keep track of her car, and they took the picture -at the top- with an extra-long telephoto lens. The photograph clearly shows another set of automobile tire-tracks on the cobblestones, ahead of Eva’s Audi rounding the turn.

Observe the 'Related Photo' at the top.

To Eva’s amazement, Santa Claus awaited her at the reindeer stable, just below the castle. He invited Eva-Maria to join him and Mrs Claus for a mug of hot chocolate. They talked about cars and traffic congestion during the holidays and the advantage of having an all-wheel-drive car. Santa was very interested to learn about the company’s quiet ‘e-tron’ electric cars, since he is very concerned about avoiding noise on his nightly round.

Eva-Maria knew that Santa Claus was looking for a new type of vehicle to speed up the yearly increasing workload of delivering presents. She was able to convince Santa of the Audi Q7 SUV’s ecological and economical advantages over the Hummer he was considering. The Q7 is a cousin of the Volkswagen Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne. The VW Group’s SUVs are available with a hybrid drive-train or diesel engine, important to eco-friendly people everywhere; That could be the platform for a new type of sleigh.

However, before signing a purchase order, Santa Claus insisted on having his new “Quattro-Sleigh” painted in an inconspicuous snow-white camouflage color.

Ever since that Christmas-Eve a number of years ago, Santa has been busy with government ‘red tape’. Permits, licenses, waivers, manufacturer’s certificates, authorizations from the Federal Aviation Agency, Departments of Fisheries and Oceans, Lands and Forests, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Department of Northern Affairs, United Nations special dispensation, and last but not least, proof of crash-worthiness from the Ministry of Transportation (MOT).

Bureaucracy has taken a terrible toll on Canadian manufacturing overall, and children’s toys in particular; so much, that cities like Toronto have to organize ‘Toy Mountain’, to make up for the shortfall of the elves production, because Santa has to waste so much time with rules, regulations, laws, policies, testing and recalls.

In the meantime, other auto-makers have been busy developing their own versions of a motorized sleigh, but none have yet succeeded.

Let’s ask ourselves: Is it any surprise that Santa Claus still depends on his reindeer?

Only recently, Eva-Maria advised this reporter that Santa Claus will take delivery of his specially modified sleigh based on the Audi SUV as soon as the weather is favorable at the North Pole. Yours truly had met her when Audi raced the R10 TDI Diesel prototype at Mosport Park, near Bowmanville, Ontario, in August 2007. (BTW, the race-track, now called Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, was one of four nominated world-wide for the title of Motorsport Facility of the Year 2013)

(To keep track of Santa’s progress on December 24, Eastern Ontario residents can tune in to the yearly radar reports from Canadian Forces Base Trenton Airport, which are broadcast over many radio stations. — Perhaps YOUR favorite station already has a similar arrangement?)

This just arrived from General Motors:
DETROIT – Starting on Christmas Eve, families traveling in General Motors’ vehicles with OnStar services will be able to learn Santa’s whereabouts by simply pressing the blue OnStar button in the U.S., Canada and now in Mexico.
For the fifth consecutive year, OnStar is providing the service through collaboration with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, “Track Santa” program.
From 7 a.m. on December 24 until 5 a.m. on December 25, anyone with an active OnStar subscription can request a “Santa Update,” which an OnStar advisor will provide based on NORAD information.

BREAKING NEWS: Ottawa, December 21st. A government employee who wishes to remain unanimous has leaked the following: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has intervened at the Ministry of Transportation by intercepting the transporter and invalidating a ‘permit for combined air/sea/land transport for experimental unlicensed vehicles’ (PASLEUV), — specifically, to ‘delay transfer of a specially prepared motorized sleigh to a position at latitude 90° North’, commonly known as the Geographic North Pole ——— while the transporter with Santa’s new special vehicle was already heading north.

The official reason given was that the yearly ice-road is still not safe, despite the early onset of winter. — An alternative method to approach the North Pole would have been by icebreaker or transport plane.

From the Canadian Coast Guard this reporter has learned that not enough ice has formed in the North-West Passage to warrant the use of one of their icebreaker vessel at this time.
The Transport Wing of the Canadian Air Command in Trenton advised that due to global warming the size of ice fields at that latitude is insufficient to carry the weight of any of its transport planes.

The inconvenient truth may be that the Federal Government does not want to upset the current, delicate negotiations between it and our neighbors on the other side of the North-Pole about Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic, by providing official-looking assistance to a person of international significance and stature.

Talk about passing the buck!! - Or ducking the puck, since the Feds are skating on thin ice on more than one matter.

When asked to comment on the government’s decision, a spokesperson for the Nunavut government replied: “This harsh and untimely action by the Federal Government in Ottawa severely restricts the timely delivery of an alternative transportation vehicle intended to increase the efficiency of travel in the North on the whole, and thereby jeopardizes the social fabric of an entire section of the population. Once again, this government has ruled on a major issue affecting all Canadians, without giving Parliament a chance to discuss this matter; It’s another deplorable example of Party Politics over the common good.”

Rumor has it, that the MOT staff could not agree on whether to have the car-transporter equipped with winter tires from Firestone, Dunlop, Yokohama, Continental, Michelin, or Goodyear, or with Canadian-made Hercules tires, and further, that an RCMP road-side inspection station near Alert, on Ellesmere Island, confiscated the license plates from a car-carrier equipped with miss-matched “tires unsuitable for the prevailing conditions” and impounded the tractor–trailer and its cargo.

Because of these actions, Santa Claus will continue to rely on his herd of reindeer with familiar names, lead by Rudolph, pulling the sleigh this year and in the foreseeable future.

[The writer apologizes for any worrying thoughts or uneasiness young listeners may have experienced concerning Santa Claus’ timely arrival, due to this latest government kerfuffle.]

Happy holidays and good wishes for 2014.

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