Tracking Santa Claus is part of a day’s work for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) workers on December 24.
The tradition came about accidentally in 1955 when a newspaper misprinted Santa’s telephone number in a department store advertisement. Instead of catching the big guy at the store, kids reached the operations hotline for the Continental Air Defense Command, a precursor to NORAD. The operators obliged those first inquiries on Santa’s location, and a tradition was born.
Today, NORAD receives upwards of 117,000 calls in the 24-hour period of tracking Santa’s route — about 5,000 calls an hour. Hundreds of NORAD workers, family and friends volunteer their time to handle the calls. What’s more, they can respond to callers in Chinese, Spanish, Dutch and other languages.
Outside of the U.S., people with the most interest in Santa’s whereabouts are in Japan, Germany and Spain. But NORAD says kids call them from every pocket of the globe, including Bulgaria, Fiji and The Gambia.
Santa goes techie
Whether Santa is flying over the Egyptian pyramids or the Great Wall of China, NORAD uses “Santa cams” and state-of-the-art space-based infrared tracking systems that they say can home in on a frequency from Rudolph’s red nose.
For people needing to keep tabs on Santa’s every move, NORAD has it covered through apps and social media accounts at NORAD’s Santa tracker site. To learn his whereabouts the old-fashioned way, call 011-1-877-HI-NORAD (44-66723).
Unfortunately, Santa wasn’t available to comment for this story.