-By Warner Todd Huston
Alright, kids, NORAD is once again tracking Santa’s progress across the world this Christmas season. If you kiddies want to find out where Santa is right this very minute, have mom and dad help you dial 1-877-446-6723 or visit NORAD’s Santa tracking website: http://www.noradsanta.org/en/.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa since 1955, and it all started by accident.
It is sort of a cute story, really, but what started NORAD’s Santa tracking effort was a 1955 Sears department store advertisement from Colorado Springs — where NORAD is based — that informed kids that they could call Santa on the phone. Unfortunately for the Sears promotion, the newspaper printed the wrong phone number and by sheer accident that number happened to take callers to the military installation’s switch board.
When dozens of calls from little kids started coming into what was then called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center, the officer in command, Colonel Harry Shoup, told his operators to go ahead and tell kids what they wanted to hear. He also ordered to tell kids that they were tracking Santa across the world with their radar installation.
Colonel Shoup passed away in 2009 and upon his passing NORAD created a little video of the good Colonel reciting that first Santa phone call.
Today, NORAD enlists the aid of volunteers to staff the phones and operate the website (http://www.noradsanta.org/en/) to handle the thousands of requests from the kids.