The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is once again turning its tracking systems on one of the most elusive figures in the world: Santa Claus. So, if your kids spend all of Christmas Eve asking: "Where is Santa?," pull up NORAD's official Santa Tracker and let them follow his journey around the world for themselves.
"NORAD tracks everything that flies in and around North America. On December 24, we also have the special mission of tracking and escorting Santa,” Major-General Eric Kenny, Commander of the Canadian NORAD Region, said in a press release issued earlier this month. “Utilizing the North Warning System's powerful radar and satellite systems, we are able to see into the North better than ever, allowing us to track Santa more precisely, ensuring he has a safe trip through North American airspace.”
Eager Santa trackers can visit noradsanta.org to follow Santa's annual Christmas Eve delivery route via NORAD's satellites or call NORAD directly at 1-877-Hi-NORAD for up-to-the-minute updates. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the number of volunteers working at the NORAD Tracks Santa call center, callers who can't get through to a real-live volunteer will be greeted with a recorded update detailing Santa's current location, the bi-national aerospace organization said in a recent press release. Families can also track Santa using the NORAD Tracks Santa Claus mobile app or by following the NORAD Santa Twitter account.
While NORAD is now famous for monitoring Santa's whereabouts on Christmas Eve, the organization actually didn't ever intend to use its technology to track jolly old St. Nick. In fact, the NORAD Tracks Santa program was born rather accidentally in 1955 after a misprinted newspaper ad encouraged kids to call the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to find out where Santa was.
According to NORAD, a man named Colonel Harry Shoup was on duty the night of Dec. 24, 1955 — and he fielded a number of calls from children eager to know where Santa Clause was. "Colonel Shoup received numerous calls that night and rather than hanging up, he had his operators find the location of Santa Claus and reported it to every child who phoned in that night," NORAD's website reads. The organization has continued the tradition of tracking Santa for children ever since.
But just how exactly does one track a man as elusive as Santa? According to NORAD, the answer lies in Rudolph's red nose. "We use infrared sensors from Rudolph's nose to determine Santa's exact location throughout the night," NORAD revealed on Twitter.