On Christmas Eve, NORAD, the military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the United States and Canada, focused its high tech resources on tracking Santa’s flight path around the world.
Why do they do that? According to the NORAD Web site:
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” [CONAD is the predecessor of NORAD] The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
Volunteers have kept the tradition going and now, thanks to the NORAD Tracks Santa website, everyone is able to keep an eye on Santa via Google earth and via Santa video cams that, this year, showed Santa visiting places such as the Great Wall of China and the International Space Station.
In addition to all the videos, maps, games, and Santa-facts on the NORAD website, this year we also found a note in memory of Colonel (Retired) Harry Shoup, USAF. Shoup, who died in March of this year, was NORAD’s first Santa Tracker, having received that first “wrong number” asking for Santa.