The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is celebrating the 60th anniversary of tracking Santa’s yuletide journey.
The tradition all started in 1955 when a local media advertisement directed children to call Santa direct—only the number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. Thus began the tradition of NORAD taking calls regarding Santa's Christmas Eve journey across the skies of the world.
“Kids get the opportunity to call in to someplace, speak with someone and find out exactly where Santa is,” said Richlwyn Ivey, Lieutenant Commander U.S. Navy.
The NORAD Tracks Santa program averages 117,371 phone calls during the 23 hours their operation center is open.
“It’s the people and the volunteers that come out each year and the energy they bring to help with this exciting day,” said Ivey. “We could not do it without them.”
Launched Dec. 1, NORAD's North Pole Village website helps children keep track of Santa's progress through games and activities in eight different languages.
New this year the website features the NORAD Headquarters in the North Pole Village and highlights of the program for the past 60 years.
Starting at 11:01 p.m. tonight, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight and NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations.
Then, at 3 a.m. Thursday trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The North Pole Village website can be found at www.noradsanta.org.
“It’s very exciting for the kids,” said Ivey. “They just love it.”