As Christmas morning draws nearer, so does the arrival of Santa Claus.
Those hoping to track down exactly when Kris Kringle will be sliding down their chimney can do so with the help of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Throughout the year, NORAD, a bi-national organization between the United States and Canada, handles missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America.
The organization’s responsibilities include watching for attacks against North America via aircraft, missiles or space vehicles.
However, once a year, NORAD undertakes a special mission: tracking good ol’ St. Nick.
NORAD’s Santa tracker starts, of course, on Christmas Eve, when Santa sets out on his annual journey.
The organization offers an online map, where children can track Santa’s progress.
The organization also opens up a phone line, where callers can talk with a live operator to determine Santa’s location. The Santa trackers can be reached at 1-877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723). The maps can also be found online at http://www.noradsanta.org.
For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, CONAD (the Continental Air Defense Command) have tracked Santa’s flight from the North Pole around the world. The practice began in 1955, when a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck advertisement printed the wrong phone number for children to reach Santa.
The number printed instead directed children to CONAD’s commander-in-chief’s operations line.
A child called the number, and reached (Ret.) Col. Harry Shoup, who had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way from the North Pole.
NORAD took over the aerospace monitoring in 1958, and also carried on the Santa tracking tradition.
NORAD uses four systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa cams and fighter jets.
According to NORAD, it’s Rudolph’s bright red nose that allows the satellites to detect Santa’s point of travel.