NORAD’s Santa Claus tracker back with a sleigh full of entertainment
Stars and Stripes November 30, 2023
The U.S. military will once again monitor the whereabouts of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
On Friday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., will reactivate Noradsanta.org, where users can find festive music, games, videos and a countdown clock to Christmas. On Dec. 24, the website goes live with updates on Santa’s worldwide journey.
NORAD has turned the tracker into a Christmas tradition, which began in 1955 and has grown more sophisticated with the times.
“Our hope is that the excitement and reaction is the same today as it was 68 years ago,” said John Ingle, a spokesman for the joint U.S.-Canadian command, which is tasked with protecting the continent from air and sea threats.
The command also has a Santa-tracking app available on Android and iOS devices. And last holiday season, more than 16 million people around the world visited its website.
“Our expectation every year is to see more and more people join us in tracking Santa,” Ingle said.
NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command, began tracking Santa’s Christmas journey by coincidence. A Sears Roebuck department store mistakenly used the CONAD telephone number in an advertisement that encouraged children to phone St. Nick.
Realizing the error, the command’s director of operations, Col. Harry Shoup, instructed his staff to tell young callers that military radar was being monitored for indications of a reindeer-guided sleigh traveling from the North Pole, and the tradition was born.
Those who want to telephone for updates on Santa’s progress can still do so on Dec. 24 between 4 a.m. and midnight Mountain Time by calling 877-446-6723.
Last year, the call center — which is run by more than 1,000 U.S. and Canadian uniformed personnel, Defense Department civilians and community volunteers at Peterson Space Force Base — answered more than 250,000 calls.
In a bid to extend its reach, the NORAD Tracks Santa website will be available in Korean for the first time this year, bringing the number of languages offered to nine.
English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish are the other available languages.
“Our team at NORAD and our contributors put a lot of work into making the NORAD Tracks Santa program a success,” Ingle said. “But the real magic — that special moment the program offers — has been and will always be between the person answering the phone and the person on the other end asking, ‘Where’s Santa?’”