Geography

JFK Checked to Make Sure Santa Was Safe From Russian Nuke Tests

With all the responsibilities that fall upon the President of the United States, it’s nice to know he has time to check in on the welfare of Santa Claus.

First Lady Jacqueline and President John Kennedy at the White House during Christmas

In 1961, the world’s top national leaders were focused on reports that the Soviet Union was planning to test its newest nuclear weapon in the Arctic Circle. An 8-year-old Michigan girl heard about this and was concerned about the North Pole’s most famous resident.

Michelle Rochon, of Marine City, wrote to President John F. Kennedy. “Please stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole because they will kill Santa Claus.”

Kennedy had a lot on his plate in that first year of his administration, but he wasn’t too busy to send a quick word of reassurance to the little girl.

“You must not worry about Santa Claus,’’ the president wrote on Oct. 28, 1961. ‘‘I talked with him yesterday and he is fine. He will be making his rounds again this Christmas.”

JFK’s letter to Michelle Rochon.

The Soviets tested their massive new bomb two days after Kennedy signed the letter. Reportedly 1,570 times more powerful than the combined strength of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is still considered the most powerful man-made explosive ever detonated.

True to JFK’s word, however, Santa apparently emerged from the experience unharmed, and Christmas has continued uninterrupted to this day.


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