(TRACK SANTA NOW HERE!)
Back when I was a kid, TV weather guys showed fuzzy, black and white radar displays that looked like they came out of a World War II movie. But once in awhile, about this time of year, you’d get a bonus: a fat guy and some reindeer superimposed over it. Sweet!
The long time experts (“Authorities,” if you’re a TV News consultant) in Santa Tracking work at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. The question is “uh…why?” The answer is, of course, on their web site.
For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s Christmas Eve flight.
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to Christmas Eve phone calls and emails from children. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Last year, millions of people who wanted to know Santa’s whereabouts visited the NORAD Tracks Santa website.
When it comes to a CONAD/NORAD Hotline, better a Red Suited caller than a Red China caller. Merry Christmas!