Spreading cheer and goodwill during the holiday season, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is celebrating 60 years of its Track Santa program.
The program started by happenstance when, in 1955, a local media advertisement for children, encouraging them to direct call Santa, was misprinted. As fate would have it, the number turned out to be for the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. NORAD has continued that tradition since 1958.
“Making sure the skies are safe is part of our mission here at NORAD. That’s a 24/7 365 days of the year mission and NORAD tracks airplanes, missiles and space launches and anything else flying in and around North America. Tracking Santa is a tradition here. We’re the only organization that has the technology, qualifications and trained personnel to do it. We are honoured to be Santa’s official tracker every year,” said Preston Schlachter, spokesperson for NORAD.
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, NORAD launched a Tracks Santa website on Dec. 1. The website features Santa’s North Pole Village and the NORAD Headquarters in the North Pole Village. The website contains a host of activities for children including a holiday countdown, games, activities, highlights of the program and more. The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese, so children around the world can track Santa on Christmas Eve.
Starting at 12:01 a.m. MST on Dec. 24, children and adults alike can get online to watch Santa make preparations for his flight through NORAD’s “Santa Cams” that will be streaming live videos as Santa makes his way from location to location. Then starting 4 a.m. MST trackers can call in to speak to a live operator about the whereabouts of Santa. Anytime on Dec. 24 Windows Phone users can ask Cortana for Santa’s location, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa.
Official NORAD Tracks Santa apps are also available in the Apple, Google Play, and Windows store. Or track Santa on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ using @noradsanta.
To call in to inquire Santa’s whereabouts on Dec. 24 dial 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to [email protected].
Visit the newly launched website at www.noradsanta.org.