Belinda M. Paschal
December 22, 2013
NORTH POLE — Tiny tots, with their eyes all aglow, will find it hard to sleep tomorrow night. They know that Santa’s on his way … but where exactly is he? NORAD can help you with that!
Christmas is a time for traditions, so it’s fitting that NORAD is back with Santa Tracker, which lets kids from 1 to 92 keep track of jolly old St. Nick’s whereabouts as he journeys around the globe.
On Christmas Eve, visitors to the NORAD Tracks Santa website at www.noradsanta.org will be able to follow Santa on his travels, as well as play games, watch videos and listen to holiday tunes.
Once Santa launches his sleigh from the North Pole, the website is updated each hour, when it is midnight in a different time zone. “Santa Cam” videos show Kris Kringle flying over famous landmarks.
For most of the year, the primary task of NORAD — North American Aerospace Defense Command — is to defend airspace around the U.S. and Canada, but every December, they entertain adults and kids alike by following Santa around the globe as he delivers presents.
According to the website, the tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. ad misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa Claus. Instead of reaching Santa, the number put kids through to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), NORAD’s predecessor. Instead of telling kids they had the wrong number, Col. Harry Shoup, the director of operations at the time, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole and give updates to kiddie callers on Santa’s location.
The program drew 22.3 million unique website visitors last year and generated 114,000 phone calls fielded by 1,200 volunteers, according to an interview with Navy Capt. Jeff Davis for the Boston Globe. The NORAD website will be available in eight languages this year.
In addition to tracking Santa on the NORAD website, you can call 1-877-446-6723 (that’s 1-877-HI-NORAD) to talk to a staff member and learn Santa’s exact location. Also, emails can be sent to email@example.com and a staffer will reply with Santa’s last known location.
You also can track Santa on your mobile device, through the official Windows 8 app, which can be downloaded from from Windows Phone, the Windows 8 store, Google Play and the App Store on iTunes.
There are updated apps for iOs, Android and Windows Phone devices, as well as new and improved website that’s designed to make Santa-tracking easier for touch-screen devices. Santa Tracker’s embrace of technology doesn’t end with the website and mobile devices. The program also has accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.