The holiday tradition of NORAD providing ground support for St. Nick started in 1955 when a newspaper in Colorado misprinted a Sears, Roebuck, and Company advertisement.
Specifically, the NORAD website explains why its super-smart facilities today provide this important festive service to the world on Christmas Eve. It states:
“For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s Christmas Eve flight.”
“The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations ‘hotline.’”
“The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.”
Check out the NORAD Santa Site at: NORAD Tracks Santa.
The website also provides information on Santa’s Village, the progress of Santa’s Elves as they prepare the millions of presents to be given to children around the world, and on the answering of thousands of e-mails sent to the NORAD site.
Learn how to email NORAD's helpers in order to ask your questions about Santa at the email address on page two. You'll also find more information on just how NORAD tracks the Main Christmas Man on his journey around the world in his reindeer-powered sleigh.
You can get your questions answered by emailing NORAD at email@example.com.
NORAD uses four complicated, high-tech systems to track Santa.
Their Santa trackers use (1) radar, (2) satellites, (3) Santa Cams, and even (4) fighter jets to make sure they know where the Jolly Old Man is on his once-a-year journey throughout the world.
NORAD says, “Tracking Santa starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system consists of 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America. On Christmas Eve, NORAD monitors the radar systems continuously for indications that Santa Claus has left the North Pole.”
As soon as Santa and his amazing flying reindeer make their take-off from Santa’s Village at the North Pole, the NORAD system goes into action.
NORAD states, “The moment that radar indicates Santa has lifted off, we use our second detection system. Satellites positioned in geo-synchronous orbit at 22,300 miles from the Earth’s surface are equipped with infrared sensors, which enable them to detect heat. Amazingly, Rudolph's bright red nose gives off an infrared signature, which allows our satellites to detect Rudolph and Santa.”
Page three concludes with more high-tech systems used by NORAD personnel to track the whereabouts of Mr. Claus.
A third system, called the Santa Cam network, was recently geared up for Santa’s Night in 1998.
Check out the Santa Cam, which captures high-tech images of Father Christmas and his reindeer as they take their famous journey around the world every Christmas Eve.
And, the fourth system used by the NORAD Santa’s Helpers is made up of fighter jets.
They say, “Canadian NORAD fighter pilots flying the CF-18 intercept and welcome Santa to North America. In the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15 or the F-16 get the thrill of flying alongside Santa and his famous reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph.”
Besides helping Kris Kringle, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph and the other reindeer, the elves, and all of Sanata’s other helpers on Christmas Eve, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) is also responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of North America—that of the United States and Canada.