58 Years Tracking Santa

For the past 58 years, various incarnations of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have been tracking Santa’s progress across the globe as he delivers presents to all the good boys and girls, and each year a new degree of technology has been added to the process.

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, 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 a tradition was born.

This year, NORADSanta.org features an advent calendar of interactive games, a library of reading materials, holiday music and videos featuring Santa’s journey across the globe.

There was a flurry of controversy this year expressing concern about the image of fighter jets accompanying Santa on his rounds but all of us true believers know the jets could never keep up with Santa anyway.

NORAD’s Santa tracker is supported by corporate sponsorship, not the military budget — “Everything from computer servers, web site design, video imaging, Santa’s tracking map, and telephone services are donated,” says the Our Team page.

The most prominent sponsor is Microsoft, plugging its Internet Explorer. But there’s support across other operating systems as well: For families on the go, NORAD Tracks Santa is available as both an iOS and Android app — this year features also include two games, a countdown to Santa’s arrival and (of course) a tracker to indicate where Santa is currently.

YouTube users can subscribe to the NORAD Tracks Santa YouTube feed, which will be posting animated updates throughout the day, and of course Twitter will provide “up-to-the-minute information” on his progress.

Finally – Google jumped on the bandwagon as well -Android users can download Google’s Santa Tracker, which offers real-time maps and another selection of games for Christmas Eve, plus the ability to beam everything to the big screen via Chromecast support.

For myself and the entire team at ACTSmart, here’s wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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