Saturday, December 22, 2012
Remember following Santa’s path on radar when you were a child? Many of us do. But you may not know that this radar generated tracking began as a mistake – a mistake made by the company that at that time was known as Sears Roebuck & Co. And because of it, millions of anxious children turn to NORAD Santa tracking to help them get through the anticipation of Christmas Eve.
In 1955, a Colorado Springs-based Sears store ran an ad providing children a number they could use to call Santa Claus. But the number was misprinted. Instead of the phones ringing at the Sears Roebuck headquarters, they rang at the Department of Defense division known as CONAD, the Continental Air Defense Command. CONAD was the predecessor of today’s NORAD, which is a joint organization of Canada and the United States that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense for the two countries.
When children began calling Colonel Harry Shoup, the CONAD Commander-in-Chief of operations on his “hotline,” they found a fellow believer in Santa. Col. Shoup and his staff began checking the radar for indications of Santa Claus in route from the North Pole and passing the updates on to the young callers. NORAD Santa Tracking was born. Two years later when the governments of Canada and the United States created the bi-national air defense command known as NORAD, the tradition of NORAD Santa tracking was continued.
Today NORAD provides Santa tracking to children and the media worldwide. They explain,
“Each and every day throughout the year, all of us here at NORAD work diligently to defend and protect our nations. It is an honor for us to take one day each year to expand our missions to share goodwill and holiday spirit across the globe through the NORAD Tracks Santa program. We owe all of this to Colonel Shoup, whose good humor in responding to that first call so long ago began our Santa-tracking tradition, and we’re proud to carry this mission along to this day. Colonel Shoup is a legend at NORAD, and through NORAD Tracks Santa, his legacy will live on forever.”
You can call NORAD and speak with a Santa-spotter. 1 (877) HI NORAD / 1 (877) 446-6723 on December 24 starting at 5:00 a.m. EST until 5:00am EST on December 25.
Or you can download Santa tracking apps from the webpage: www.noradsanta.org/en/