THUNDER BAY – Starting December 1st the tradition of tracking the journey of Santa Claus on his journey that starts on Christmas Eve begins as the NORAD Santa Tracking website fires up for the year.
It all started because of a misprint in a newspaper ad. That early mistake has grown for over half a century into a Christmas Eve tradition. For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight across the globe.
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and the tradition was born.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
The process has taken on the latest technology online. Starting in 2009, children and their parents can use Google Earth to track the global journey of the jolly old elf and his reindeer sleigh as they make their way around the world.