2014 Santa Tracking Is Now Online
For most of the year NORAD is tasked with monitoring airspace around the US and Canada for incursions by foreign air forces and potentially devastating man-made objects, but each December it also pours a huge amount of resources into entertaining children around the world by tracking Santa Claus.
This unusual tradition dates back to 1955, when a Sears Roebuck & Company department store offered children the chance to talk directly to Santa in an advertisement. It said: “Hey, Kiddies! Call me on my private phone – just dial ME 2-6681.”
Unfortunately, Sears had accidentally printed the phone number for the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) instead of their special Santa line. Instead of getting through to Santa, the kids ended up on the line to a military base. Once he realized what had happened, Colonel Harry Shoup – who came to be known as the “Santa Colonel” – quickly told his staff to answer the calls with an update on Santa’s current position.
NORAD replaced CONAD a few years later, but the tradition remained and continues to this day.
Volunteers staff call centers on Christmas Eve and field around 70,000 phone calls each year from over 200 countries. The whole program is run by volunteers from within NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), but also from Google, Verizon and Air Canada.
Speaking to NBC back in 2010, then deputy commander of NORAD Lt. Gen. Marcel Duval said: “It’s really ingrained in the NORAD psyche and culture. It’s a goodwill gesture from all of us, on our time off, to all the kids on the planet.”
In 1997 the internet was brought into play and each year since, NORAD has hosted a different website tracking Santa’s progress. Through the years they’ve become more and more advanced, upgrading along with the internet itself.
The project has now embraced all forms of online communication and social media using Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook accounts. From 2004 to 2009 people were able to track Santa through Google Earth, with the site offering a download link for the application. Today, we simply log on to NoradSanta.org where kids will find an assortment of games, movies and music to keep them entertained while parent get the last minute holiday preparations taken care of.
On December 24th when NORAD starts tracking Santa, visitors to the site will be able to follow his journey on the 3D globe and pinch and zoom their way to his many destinations.