This is the 50th Anniversary that NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa. The tradition began after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. store advertisement for children to call Santa on a special "hotline" included an inadvertently misprinted telephone number. Instead of Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations "hotline." The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first "Santa" call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing what had happened, Colonel Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa’s position. Thus, the tradition was born. In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States decided to create a bi-national air defense command for the North American continent called the North American Air Defense Command. Canada and the U.S. believed they could better defend North America together as a team instead of separately.
The Command carried out its first Santa tracking in 1958 after inheriting the tradition from CONAD. Since that time, Canadian and American men and women who work at NORAD have responded to phone calls from children personally. Additionally, media from all over the world call NORAD on Christmas Eve for updates on Santa’s location. Last year this Website was visited by millions of people who wanted to know Santa’s whereabouts. This year, the information is provided in six languages.
NORAD relies on many volunteers to help make Santa tracking possible. Many people at Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base spend part of their Christmas Eve with their families and friends at NORAD’s Santa Tracking Operations Center in order to answer phones and provide Santa updates to the many thousands of children who call in.
source URL: NORAD Tracks Santa 2005