On Dec. 24, 1955, a call was made to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) operations center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
However, this call was not from the president or a general. It was from a young child in Colorado Springs who was following the directions in an advertisement printed in the local paper – the youngster wanted to know the whereabouts of Santa Claus.
The ad had read, “Hey, kiddies! Call me direct and be sure and dial the correct number.” However, the number was printed incorrectly in the advertisement and rang into the CONAD operations center.
On duty that night, Col. Harry Shoup became known as the ‘Santa Colonel.’ Shoup received numerous calls that evening and, rather than hanging up, had his operators find the location of Santa Claus and report it to every child who phoned in.
Thus began a tradition carried on by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) when it was formed in 1958. Today, through satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters, NORAD tracks Santa Claus as he makes his Yuletide journey around the world.
Every year on Dec. 24, 1,500 volunteers staff telephones and computers to answer calls and emails from children (and adults) from around the world. Live updates are provided through the NORAD Tracks Santa website in seven languages, over telephone lines and by email to keep curious children and their families informed about Santa’s whereabouts and if it’s time to get to bed.
Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa website receives nearly 9 million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Volunteers receive more than 140,000 calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline from children around the globe.
This year, children and the young at heart are able to track Santa through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. To follow any of these websites, type @noradsanta into the search engine and start tracking.
NORAD Tracks Santa has become a magical and global phenomenon, delighting generations of families everywhere.
– Courtesy Metro Creative