December is upon us, which means that soon all eyes will be upturned—or fixed to computer screens—for the return to the sky of a reindeer-powered, open-cockpit aircraft with skids for landing gear and an extra large baggage compartment.
No one knows this better than the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which has dealt with the phenomenon every year since NORAD was created in 1958. That’s why NORAD has issued a statement out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado informing the public that a major push is on to guarantee that Santa’s annual yuletide journey goes off without a hitch.
NORAD also invites everyone to join the countdown online beginning Dec. 1, and then, when Santa departs on his journey, to enjoy the proceedings via the internet on Dec. 24.
Children and their parents can count down the days until launch on their smart phones and tablets with official “NORAD Tracks Santa” apps available in the Windows, Apple, and Google Play stores, or on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, or Google+. NORAD suggests typing “@noradsanta” into each search engine to get started.
Starting at 2:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Dec. 24, anyone with a computer or other electronic device will be able to monitor Santa’s preparation for his trek, then track his movement. At 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Dec. 24, trackers worldwide will be able to check Santa’s whereabouts by calling toll-free 877-Hi-NORAD, or by sending NORAD an email.
As Santa’s journey progresses, NORAD’s Santa Cams will stream videos over the website as he appears over various locations.
At any time on Dec. 24, Windows Phone users can ask Cortana for Santa’s location. OnStar subscribers can press their vehicle’s OnStar button to locate Santa, NORAD said.
NORAD’s tradition of tracking Santa has its origins in—of all things—a wrong number that was dialed in 1955 after a local media advertisement directed children to call Santa direct. But there was a misprint in the ad, and the person who answered the phone was not Santa, but the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center.
The annual rite “is truly a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere,” NORAD said, noting the participation of dozens of program contributors.