PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado — Continuing a 64-year tradition, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will be tracking Santa Claus once again.
“In addition to our day-to-day mission of defending North America, we are proud to carry on the tradition of tracking Santa as he travels along his yuletide flight path,” said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command. “The same radars, satellites, and interceptors employed on December 24 are used year-round to defend Canadian and American airspace from threats.”
The tradition started in 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly – only the contact number in the advertisement was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD.
Col. Shoup was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa. Shoup then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls. Thus, a tradition was born and continued when NORAD was formed in 1958. Each year since NORAD has reported Santa’s location on December 24 to millions of children and families.
On Sunday, December 1, the 64th iteration of NORAD Tracks Santa begins with the launch of the www.noradsanta.org website. On December 24, users may call 1-877-HiNORAD for Santa’s up-to-date location.
Starting on Dec. 24 at 2:01 a.m. EST, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight. NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations. Then, at 6 a.m. EST, trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723), by sending an email to email@example.com or by following the official NORAD Tracks Santa social media channels.
Additionally, any time on Dec. 24, Amazon Alexa users can ask for Santa’s location through the NORAD Tracks Santa skill for Amazon Alexa, and OnStar members can push the blue OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa.