The Interstate Commerce Commission yesterday granted Kris Kringle, doing business as Santa Claus, emergency authority to carry a sleighload of goods for a 24-hour period beginning at 11:59 p.m. North Pole Time and ending sometime today.
The agency said the applicant would carry bags of boxed and unboxed gifts including dolls, trains, games, puppies and guppies, sugar and spice and everything nice for girls and boys, along with replacement parts (smiles instead of trials) for grownups.
In addition, the ICC granted Kringle the authority to carry lumps of coal in bulk and switches and ashes, to be used sparingly in certain specified instances.
In keeping with recent congressional actions to deregulate transportation, the commission said the applicant was a "most uncommon" carrier -- a two-runner sleigh pulled by eight tiny reinder -- running over highly irregular routes. The services could not be met by existing carriers, the agency said.
In making its decision, the commission rejected joint protest filed by Ebenezer Scrooge on behalf of Sleighload National Investment Trust (SNIT), an association of large manufacturers of cargo sleighs; Sleigh Lessees International Program Inc. (SLIP), a group of the nation's principal sleigh lessees; and the Sleighman Protective Institute of Teamsters (SPIT), the collective bargaining agent of the Helpers, Elves and Drivers of the intercity sleigh industry.
SNIT, with offices at 1984 Easy Street in Slipshod, Tenn., noted that most of its output consists of two-deer and four-deer sleighs and contended that the introduction of eight-deer equipment would render the existing national sleigh fleet obsolete. The result will be rising sleigh rates and lower-quality sleigh rides, the group argued.
The sleigh lessees said they would be financially hurt by the new competition and that nationalization of the industry was the inevitable outcome. The union argued that by enlarging sleigh capacity beyond a safe maximum, the Kringle proposal would reduce job opportunities for their members.
The commission rejected the protestors' arguments, however, saying that Kringle's past performance was evidence of his intent to serve the public. Furthermore, his proposal to compensate his eight elfin agents for services performed with an unspecified amount of cookies, milk and cocoa is acceptable and encouraged, the ICC said.
"This decision is not a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act, but it may postitively impact on the quality of good will," ICC Chairman Darius W. Gaskins Jr. wrote.