NORAD standing by to track Santa’s journey

Members of the 22nd Wing Canadian Forces Base in North Bay track Santa on his sleigh on Christmas evening. (Photo by Corp. Rob Ouellette)

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo., Dec. 23, 2021—The North American Aerospace Defense Command is celebrating its 66th Anniversary of tracking Santa’s yuletide journey around the globe.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website, launched Dec. 1, features Santa’s North Pole Village, which includes a holiday countdown, 24 online games, holiday music and more.

The official NORAD Tracks Santa app is also in the Apple App and Google Play stores, so parents and children can count down the days until Santa’s launch on their smart phones and tablets.

Tracking opportunities are also offered through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, as well as on partner platforms Bing, Amazon Alexa and OnStar.

Starting at 4 a.m. EST Friday, website visitors can see updates as Santa makes preparations for his flight.

Then, at 6 a.m. EST, trackers worldwide can call to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) where they will either speak with a live phone operator or hear a recorded update.

Due to COVID concerns, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center will have fewer phone operators, so callers who do not reach a volunteer will hear a regularly updated recording about Santa’s current location.

Anytime Friday, Amazon Alexa users can ask for Santa’s location through the NORAD Tracks Santa skill for Amazon Alexa, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa.

Santa Trackers can also use the Bing search engine to learn of Santa’s location.

Tracking Santa has been a tradition since 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly; however the contact number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center (NORAD’S predecessor), U.S. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup.

The colonel was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the child he was Santa. He then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls.

Thus, a holiday tradition was born, one NORAD has carried on since it was created in 1958.

Each year since, NORAD has reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families around the world.

Peterson Space Force Base news release

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