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NORAD’s Santa Tracker continues with more ways to track than ever

Airman 1st Class Megan Mills, left, and Tech. Sgt. Kriston Brown participate in a Santa tracking exercise. (Steve Howe/ Observer-Dispatch/TNS)
December 23, 2021

Members of the New York Air National Guard will keep a Christmas tradition alive again this year, as they help track Santa Claus’ journey.

The Eastern Air Defense Sector, headquartered in Rome, will participate in the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s tracking of Santa’s worldwide journey, with personnel from the New York Air National Guardsmen and Royal Canadian Air Force ready to help.

“We’re delighted to support NORAD’s Santa tracking operations,” said Col. Paul M. Bishop, EADS Commander, in a statement. “I can assure everyone that EADS will do everything in its power to assist Santa with his critical mission.”

NORAD launched its Santa tracking website, noradsanta.org, on Dec. 1, with a number of different features like holiday music and games. There’s also the official NORAD Tracks Santa app, which features a holiday countdown.

Tracking also is available on social media through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, or through Bing, Amazon Alexa and OnStar.

Visitors can see updates on Santa’s preparations beginning at 4 a.m. Christmas Eve. Children and parents can call 1-877-446-6723 to inquire about Santa beginning at 6 a.m. the same day.

While there are a lot more methods of tracking Santa’s journey, making a call relates most closely to the origins of NORAD’s Santa tracking tradition. In 1955, a misprinted phone number in a newspaper advertisement to call Santa resulted in the calls routing to U.S. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup instead.

Shoup was able to address the mistake, assuring the child he was Santa. A duty officer was assigned to answer the calls, and a holiday tradition was born.

The tradition began with NORAD’s precursor, the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, and continues now, 66 years later.

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