Defending North America is the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) #1 priority. NORAD monitors and defends North American airspace 365 days a year, buton December 24, NORAD has one additional mission: that of tracking Santa Claus as he makes his way across the globe, delivering presents to children.
This is NORAD’s 67th year tracking Santa and it’s a tradition the Command is proud to continue each year. Starting at 5 a.m. on December 24, website visitors can see updates as Santa makes preparations for his flight.
Tracking Santa has been a tradition since 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly – only the contact number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD. Col. Shoup was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the child he was Santa. Shoup then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls. Thus, a holiday tradition was born, which NORAD has carried on since it was created in 1958. Each year since, NORAD has reported Santa’s location on December 24 to millions of children and families around the world.