NORAD Tracks Santa program kicks off for 2019

As the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) conducts its primary mission of defending our shared continent, it stands ready to continue its tradition of tracking Santa’s journey around the globe on Dec. 24.

Volunteers answer phones during the 2016 NORAD Tracks Santa event at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Dennis Carlyle Photo
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“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. “The same radars, satellites and interceptors employed on Dec. 24 are used year-round to defend Canadian and American airspace from threats.”

The defense of Canada and the United States’ homeland is NORAD’s top priority. NORAD is a binational U.S. and Canadian command charged with aerospace and maritime warning and aerospace control of North America as well as monitoring aerospace activity globally. However, every year during the holidays, NORAD assumes the supplementary mission of tracking Santa as he travels around the world.

It all started in 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly – only the contact number in the advertisement was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Col Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD. 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 tradition was born, and continued when NORAD was formed in 1958. Each year since, NORAD has reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families.

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On Dec. 1, the 64th iteration of NORAD Tracks Santa begins with the launch of the www.noradsanta.org website. NORAD Tracks Santa is truly a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere. This is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors and volunteers.

On Dec. 24, users may call 1-877-HiNORAD for Santa’s up-to-date location.

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