December 17, 2013
By AOPA ePublishing staff
The team at NORAD is ready to track the man in red with its annual Santa Tracker. NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), have been tracking Santa for children since 1958.
The Santa tracking 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."
Col. Harry Shoup, CONAD’s director of operations, had his staff check the radar and track Santa as he made his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, starting the tradition.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created NORAD, which took over Santa-tracking duties. Since then, NORAD employees, family members, and friends have volunteered their time to answer phone calls and emails from children around the world. And anyone can track Santa on the special tracker website.
The NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center will be fully operational beginning at 3 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Dec. 24. Dial 877/HI-NORAD (877/446-6723) to talk directly to a NORAD staff member, who will provide Santa’s exact location. Operators will be available until 3 a.m. on Dec. 25 to answer calls.
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