Santa Claus is coming to town, which means it is time to check in on the NORAD Santa Tracker. NORAD’s radars detected Jolly Old Saint Nick’s sleigh making its scheduled departure from the North Pole just after 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, December 24.
Beginning at 4:01 a.m. ET on Christmas Eve, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracker went live so people around the world can track Santa and his eight reindeer as they make the trip across the world to deliver presents to children everywhere.
The program — which began in 1955 after a misprinted newspaper ad — uses the “heat from Rudolph’s red nose” to track Santa’s movements.
“In addition to our day-to-day mission of defending North America, we are proud to carry on the tradition of tracking Santa as he travels along his yuletide flight path,” said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, in a press release.
“The same radars, satellites and interceptors employed on December 24 are used year-round to defend Canadian and American airspace from threats.”
CNN has more on how the program began:
The Santa Tracker program began in 1955 because of a mistake in a Colorado Springs newspaper advertisement from Sears Roebuck & Co. The Sears ad misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. The phone number published was actually for the commander in chief’s operations hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), which was NORAD’s predecessor.
On December 24, 1955, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup was on duty, and instead of hanging up on countless children that night, Shoup checked the radar and updated the eager children on jolly old Saint Nick’s location. That 1955 misprint and Shoup’s actions started a 62-year tradition that is made possible today by volunteers and corporate sponsors who bear the expense.
For that, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup will forever be a Christmas legend.
Anyone who places a call to 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) on Christmas Eve can speak live to a NORAD tracker who will update you on the status of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. In the past, VIP trackers like Michelle Obama have accepted calls to provide updates.
You can keep up with Santa’s journey live by clicking here.
Merry Christmas, everyone.