US-Canada Military Tradition: Tracking Santa for 68th Year


The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) continues its heartwarming tradition, helping kids across the globe track Santa’s journey. The joint US-Canadian military agency transforms its Colorado headquarters into a buzzing call center, fielding curious children’s questions about the beloved Santa Claus.

Interactive Santa Tracker: An Enchanting Holiday Experience

  • Engaging 3-D Website: NORAD’s offers an interactive experience, showcasing Santa’s worldwide journey in 3-D. Users can click on various cities along Santa’s route to discover more about his enchanting expedition.
  • Decades-Long Tradition: Dating back to 1955, this Santa tracker originated from a Colorado newspaper misprint that redirected children’s calls to the military hotline. Ever since, NORAD has kept the spirit alive, helping children locate Santa Claus during the festive season.

NORAD’s Captivating Santa Tracker: Immersive Festive Experience

The enchantment of NORAD’s Santa tracker lies in its ability to transport users into the heart of Santa Claus’s yuletide journey. The interactive website, adorned with 3-D visuals, invites users on a virtual expedition alongside Santa and his reindeer across the globe. By simply clicking on various cities along Santa’s route, users can delve deeper into the magical world of Christmas, discovering fascinating tidbits about different locales and cultures.

Origin Story: Spreading Joy through a Colorado Misprint

The endearing tradition of tracking Santa Claus traces its roots to a heartwarming incident in 1955 when a Colorado newspaper misdirected children’s calls to the military hotline, inadvertently connecting them with NORAD’s nerve center. This serendipitous moment prompted Colonel Harry Shoup to pioneer the act of checking radar systems to provide real-time updates on Santa’s location, igniting a legacy that persists over six decades later.

NORAD’s Evolved Tradition: Volunteer-Driven Festive Delight

The continuity of this heartwarming tradition hinges on the dedication of volunteers who transform NORAD’s Colorado headquarters into a bustling call center during the holiday season. Decked in red Santa caps, volunteers, including dignitaries like President Biden and the First Lady, join in the festive fervor, answering calls and delighting children with tales of Santa’s journey.

Santa’s Extraordinary Global Voyage: NORAD’s Visual Journey

The NORAD tracker paints a vivid picture of Santa’s extraordinary voyage, starting from an otherworldly stop at the International Space Station and traversing continents and diverse landscapes worldwide. From bustling cities to remote research stations in Antarctica, the tracker showcases Santa’s goodwill and generosity spanning across borders and cultures.

Ensuring Cheer Amid Challenges: NORAD’s Dual Mission

Amidst the joyous celebrations, NORAD’s commitment to global security remains steadfast. Even as Santa spreads festive cheer, the agency continues its critical operations, monitoring aerospace and maritime activities, ensuring peace and stability worldwide.

NORAD’s Heartwarming Origins and Evolution

  • Colonel Harry Shoup’s Legacy: NORAD’s director, Colonel Harry Shoup, initiated the Santa tracking tradition in 1955. Spotting a newspaper ad’s misdirected calls from children seeking Santa’s location, Shoup ordered radar checks to update kids about Santa’s whereabouts, igniting a timeless tradition.
  • Continued Legacy: 68 years later, NORAD persists in its heartwarming tradition, establishing a special call center at its Colorado base. Volunteers, some donning Santa caps, field calls from eager children worldwide, ensuring the magic of Christmas lives on.

Presidential Participation and Global Adventure

  • Presidential Engagement: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden partook in NORAD’s Santa tracking calls, joining families nationwide in this festive celebration.
  • Santa’s Extraordinary Journey: NORAD’s tracker depicted Santa’s remarkable journey from the International Space Station to crossing continents, including stops in Israel, Gaza, Africa, and even a visit to a research facility in Antarctica. The tracker estimated Santa delivering a staggering 100,000 gifts per second, totaling around 4.9 billion presents.

Technological Hiccups and NORAD’s Ongoing Mission

  • Technical Glitches: Despite brief technical interruptions, NORAD assured children of Santa’s uninterrupted flight, providing updates and fixing the tracking map promptly.
  • Beyond Festivities: While spreading joy during the holidays, NORAD continues its critical operations, monitoring aerospace and maritime activities, including vigilance for missile launches from North Korea.

The timeless tradition of tracking Santa Claus not only brings joy to children worldwide but also showcases NORAD’s dedication to both festive cheer and vital global security.

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