HOLT, Fla., Dec. 3, 2022—Every year beginning Dec. 1, the North American Aerospace Defense Command activates it’s Santa Tracker website.
Santa Tracker is an interactive website with games, videos, music, information and more. Holiday music for the site is provided by the Air Force bands.
Each day, beginning with Dec. 1, the NORAD Santa website unlocks a new game in its online arcade that’s challenging and fun for kids of all ages.
Then, on Dec. 24, as soon as Santa takes off from the North Pole, NORAD begins tracking his worldwide trip. Website visitors can watch where he goes throughout the evening, especially to make sure when everyone needs to be in bed asleep in time for his visit.
NORAD has been tracking Santa’s trip since 1955.
It all started when a Sears newspaper advertisement listed the wrong phone number for children to call to speak with Santa Claus.
Back in December 1955, when a young girl placed a phone call using the wrong number from the ad, she wound up calling the director of combat operations at what is NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command.
When Col. Harry Shoup answered the phone, he quickly realized the error and instead of hanging up, assured the girl that he was Santa Claus.
Shoup’s team fielded calls all night as children continued to call, hoping to speak with Santa.
Thus began the tradition that’s continued for the last 66 years.
Using a constellation of defense satellites with infrared sensors, NORAD is able to keep pinpoint accuracy on the heat sensor from Rudolph’s nose. That information is provided on the Santa Tracker website on Dec. 24 as Santa and his team make their trip around the world.
Each year, volunteers at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs staff the phones to field more than 53,000 calls and answer more than 2,000 emails from around the world asking where Santa is and when he’ll arrive at their house.
Phone lines are open for 23 hours, with 10 two-hour shifts from 4 a.m. through midnight MST. Dialing 877-Hi-NORAD (877-466-6723) will connect the call to one of Santa’s helpers. Lines remain open afterwards until 3 a.m. with an automated message regarding Santa’s whereabouts.
In the world of high technology, Santa can be tracked through social media, phone apps, home monitoring systems such as Amazon Alexa, OnStar and, of course, the traditional phone call.
Working together with Canada, NORAD’s daily mission, besides tracking Santa’s trip around the world on Dec. 24, is to detect, validate and warn of an impending attack against North American whether it comes by aircraft, missile or space.