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Sarina Houston

57 Years of NORAD Santa-Tracking

By December 25, 2012

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NORAD Tracks Santa

NORAD has been tracking Santa Clause every Christmas for 57 years, and this year was no exception. While most people have heard of NORAD's ability to track Santa, many may not know that the program was started by accident.

It's a fascinating story, really.

In 1955, a department store printed the wrong number on an ad for children to call and speak with Santa Clause. The number that was misprinted, it turns out, was the number to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) office, where kids called one night asking for Santa Clause.

The man that answered the phone, Colonel Harry Shoup, was nice enough to play along, telling children that called where Santa might be based on his radar data. The tradition kept, and today, millions of people call, email and watch online to track Santa. This year, thousands called the hotline, keeping hundreds of volunteers busy throughout Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning.

NORAD uses radar, satellites, cameras and fighter jets to track Santa, a mission that is a light-hearted change of pace for an organization that protects the nation's skies from harm every day of every year.


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