Are your children curious (and hopeful) about when Santa will be at their house? Well, there’s help for families who want to “track” Santa’s sleigh this Christmas. For more than 50 years NORAD has been keeping track of Santa from chimney to chimney from the agency’s headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The organization which usually keeps an eye out for threats from ballistic missiles uses its advanced radar system, as well as satellite imagery, to follow Santa’s flight path from the North Pole.
NORAD also has a collection of “ultra-cool, high-tech, high-speed digital cameras that will be used to snap pictures and videos of the man in red as he delivers gifts to everyone on his ‘Nice list.” the candid shots from these SantaCams will be immediately posted on NORAD’s website.
Of course, the camera aren’t likely to catch a glimpse of Santa until tonight when he loads up his sleigh, harnesses the reindeer and takes off from the North Pole. But if you want to catch a glimpse of him as he makes his flight preparations log onto the NORAD website starting at 12:01 a.m. MTS on Christmas Eve. (All this means he’s on his way around the world!)
Once Santa takes off, you can watch his progress on the site or e-mail NORAD to ask for an update on Santa’s whereabouts. Trackers can also download the Santa tracking app on their smartphones and tablets or they can search the web for “@noradsanta” to follow his movements on social media. If you’d rather track Santa by phone you can do that too. NORAD personnel will be standing by to answer calls from those eager to know when their presents will be arriving. Kinds have been calling NORAD sine 1955, which is when the organization’s Santa-tracking efforts began.
The tradition started when a local business in Colorado Springs advertised a Santa hotline that children could call into on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, the company listed the wrong number on its advertisement. Instead of Santa on the phone, they got Col. Harry Shoup, then commander-in-chief of the Continental Air Defense Command, the predecessor to NORAD. Not wanting to disappoint these merry callers, Shoup checked the radar for signs of a giant sleigh led by a red-nosed reindeer. In so doing, he became the first of many servicemen and women to track Santa in action.
I like to believe that due to Colonel Shoup’s great response to something he certainly wasn’t expecting (being Santa to callers) he started it all. Just think what would have happened if someone else, in a grumpy mood, would have answered those phone calls. This clever holiday program for children probably wouldn’t exist and Christmas excitement for children would be very different.