Sixty Years of Tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve
THUNDER BAY – NEWS – It all started with a mistake. At the height of the Cold War, on Christmas Eve in 1955, the telephone rang at the United States Government’s Air Defence Headquarters.
Visit www.noradsanta.org to enjoy the website.
Instead of a senior General or the President of the United States, on the line was a little boy asking “Is this Santa Claus?”
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 North American Aerospace Defense Command is celebrating the 60th anniversary of tracking Santa’s Yuletide journey.
The NORAD Tracks Santa website, which launched today, features Santa’s North Pole Village, which includes a holiday countdown, games, activities, and more.
The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.
Official NORAD Tracks Santa apps also are available in the Windows, Apple and Google Play stores, so parents and children can count down the days until Santa’s launch on their smartphones and tablets. Tracking opportunities also are offered on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google Plus. Santa followers simply need to type “@noradsanta” into each search engine to get started.
This year, the website features the NORAD headquarters in the North Pole Village and highlights of the program over the past 60 years.
Tracking Santa’s Flight
Starting at 12:01 a.m. MST (2:01 a.m. EST) Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight. NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations. Then, at 4 a.m. MST (6 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Any time on Dec. 24, Windows Phone users can ask Cortana for Santa’s location, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa.
NORAD Tracks Santa is possible, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors, NORAD officials said.