PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. — Defending North America is the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) #1 priority. NORAD monitors and defends North American airspace 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
On December 24, NORAD has one additional mission: that of tracking Santa Claus as he makes his way across the globe, delivering presents to children. This is NORAD’s 67th year tracking Santa and it’s a tradition the Command is proud to continue each year.
Like many origin stories, NORAD’s mission to track Santa began by accident. In 1955 a young child, trying to reach Santa, dialed the misprinted phone number from a department store ad in the local newspaper. Instead of calling Santa, the child called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night who answered the child’s phone call, was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa. After more incoming calls, Shoup assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls and a tradition was born, that continued when NORAD was formed in 1958.
The NORAD Tracks Santa website (www.noradsanta.org) launched on December 1. It features Santa’s North Pole Village, which includes a holiday countdown, games, movie theater, holiday music, webstore, and more. The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.
The official NORAD Tracks Santa app is also in the Apple App and Google Play stores, so parents and children can count down the days until Santa’s journey on their smartphones and tablets. Tracking opportunities are also offered through social media on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, as well as on partner platforms: Bing, Amazon Alexa, and OnStar.
Starting at 4 a.m. EST on December 24, website visitors can see updates as Santa makes preparations for his flight. Then, at 6 a.m. EST, trackers worldwide can call to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) where they will either speak with a live phone operator or hear a recorded update.
NORAD Tracks Santa is truly a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere. This is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors. This year’s contributors include:
- Space Base Delta 1
- Acuity Scheduling
- Alaskan NORAD Region
- Amazon Alexa
- Amazon Web Services
- Balsam Hill
- Canadian NORAD Region
- Canadian Forces Museum of Aerospace Defence
- Christmas in the Park
- Colorado Springs Chamber & Economic Development Corporation
- Continental U.S. NORAD Region
- Defense Video & Imagery Distribution Systems
- The Elf on the Shelf
- Getty Images
- Hewlett Packard
- Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo
- IU Globelink
- Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
- Microsoft Azure
- Microsoft Bing
- Naden Band of Maritime Forces Pacific
- NASA Space Place
- Nashville.Net User Group
- Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center
- Package From Santa
- PR Karma
- Portable North Pole
- Royal Canadian Air Force Band
- Shirt Stop
- Six String Soldiers
- Snowy the Mouse
- Space Foundation
- Together We Stand Foundation
- U.S. Air Force Band
- U.S. Air Force Academy Band
- U.S. Air Force Heartland of America Band
- U.S. Coast Guard Band
- U.S. Department of State Family Liaison Office
- U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
- U.S. Navy Band Northeast
- U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee
NORAD is a United States and Canada bi-national organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America. NORAD prevents air attacks against North America, safeguarding the sovereign airspaces of the United States and Canada by responding to unknown, unwanted, and unauthorized air activity approaching and operating within these airspaces.