NORAD ready to track Santa’s journey

By Elizabeth Schmitt - For the Daily Call

NORTH POLE — Christmas is just around the corner and with just three days to go, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has its radar all set and ready to track Santa Claus as he makes his way around the world delivering presents.

Children around the world can visit on Christmas Eve to join NORAD and track Santa as he makes his magical journey in his sleigh, pulled by Santa’s nine famous reindeer with Rudolph guiding the sleigh of course.

Children and parents can also call 1-877-446-6723 (that’s 1-877-HI-NORAD) to talk to one of 1,500 staff members who are specially trained in Santa-tracking technology to provide Santa’s location.

The website is updated every hour, and also as Santa enters into different timezones once he launches his sleigh from the North Pole.

“Last year there were more than 41,000 calls, which is 100 calls a minute. We also had 55 million hits on the website,” said Lieutenant Commander Paul Noel.

“It’s a tradition by accident,” said Noel. In 1955, after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. ad misprinted the telephoner number for Santa Claus with the telephone number for the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), NORAD’s predecessor.

Col. Harry Shoup, then the director of operations, answered the first phone call from a child asking about Santa, and instead of telling the child it was a mistake, Shoup had his staff report the location of Santa Claus, and kept tracking him all night so he could tell each child called that night Santa’s location.

Ordinarily, NORAD’s function is to protect the airspace around the U.S. and Canada, but every December, NORAD has staff members and volunteers who run the Santa tracker.

The website and call center is completely free, with over 70 corporate and military sponsors, who donate computers, phone systems, networks, and more and make sure that NORAD has everything it needs to track Santa Claus.

The website features not only the Santa Claus radar tracker, but also music, fun family-friendly games, videos and movie trailers, printable coloring pages, and even a gift shop to purchase official NORAD Santa tracker t-shirts.

In addition to NORAD’s website and call center, they have apps on iOS, Android, and Windows phones for mobile tracking, and through OnStar NORAD provides locations while in the car.

NORAD can be found on Twitter at @NoradSanata and Instagram at @noradtracksanta.

By Elizabeth Schmitt

For the Daily Call