Every Christmas Eve kids and parents everywhere tune in to NORAD’s Santa Tracker. Since 1955, NORAD has been hot on Sant’s trail and tracking his sleigh’s every move. Why does NORAD track Santa and how did this tradition start?
Tracking Santa Since 1955: Why Does NORAD Track Santa’s Sleigh Ride?
Since 1958, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been keeping its eye on the sky, ready to warn of missiles, bombs, and even Superman. But even back before the organization’s formation, Santa has been on its literal radar.
Apparently, it all started with a wrong number. 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 had kids call NORAD’s predecessor organization, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD). And it wasn’t just any phone number at CONAD. It was the direct line for the Commander-in-Chief’s operations ‘hotline.’ The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, couldn’t just hang up on all of the kids calling. So he 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 NORAD Santa Tracker tradition was born. So why does NORAD track Santa? Because Colonel Shoup didn’t want to disappoint the kids calling his hotline.
Santa Norad: How To Track Santa Today On The Internet
In addition to the official NORAD Santa tracker website, you can also track Santa’s sleigh ride on sites like Google Earth. There are even videos of his flight above landmarks like the Taj Mahal on YouTube. If you’ve had your doubts about Santa’s authenticity — misled by robot imposters, perhaps? — NORAD clears them up with hard data from 60 years of research.
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Caroline Walker is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. She has worked in both the entertainment and the nonprofit sector. Walker holds a BA from the University of Southern California and an MA from New York University’s Gallatin School.