The Tradition of Tracking Santa’s Journey Continues: NORAD’s Santa Tracker

The joint US-Canadian military monitoring agency has continued its decades-long Christmas tradition of tracking Santa’s whereabouts, helping children around the globe find out when his reindeer-powered, present-filled sleigh is coming to town. This heartwarming initiative brings joy to millions of children every year as they eagerly wait for Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve.

A 3-D Interactive Experience

In the modern age of technology, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) presents Santa’s journey in a 3-D, interactive website at Children and their families can embark on a virtual adventure, following Santa Claus and his reindeer on their imagined worldwide delivery route. The website allows users to click and learn more about the various cities along the way, creating an immersive and educational experience.

A Historical Mix-Up

The origins of NORAD’s Santa tracker date back to 1955 when a Colorado newspaper advertisement printed a phone number to connect children with Santa. However, due to a mistake, the number directed them to the hotline for the military nerve center. Colonel Harry Shoup, NORAD’s director of operations at the time, noticed the confusion and decided to turn it into an opportunity to bring joy to children. He instructed his staff to check the radar to determine Santa’s location and personally update the children on his whereabouts. This act of kindness sparked a beloved tradition that continues to this day.

Sixty-eight years later, NORAD remains committed to the tradition of tracking Santa Claus. Every year, they set up a temporary call center out of their Colorado headquarters to answer children’s burning questions about Santa’s journey. Volunteers, including military personnel and civilians, come together for this special occasion. Rows of people in uniform and others wearing red Santa caps can be seen answering phones, spreading cheer and happiness to children around the world.

Not only does this tradition capture the hearts of volunteers, but it also captivates the attention of top-level US dignitaries. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden joined in on the holiday action by participating in the North American Aerospace Defense Command Santa tracking calls with children and families across the country. Their involvement highlights the significance and universal appeal of this heartwarming event.

Technical Hiccups and Santa’s Journey

The Santa tracker experienced a brief technical glitch earlier this year, leaving children in the Pacific region momentarily unsure of Santa’s exact position. However, the NORAD team swiftly addressed the issue and assured everyone that Santa was still making his way to their locations. Despite the minor setback, the excitement and anticipation remained high as Santa’s journey continued.

The Worldwide Adventure

Santa’s journey commenced with an out-of-this-world first stop, according to NORAD: the International Space Station orbiting Earth. From there, the reindeer-pulled sleigh traversed various countries and continents, including Israel, southern Gaza, Africa, and even ventured southward to Palmer Station, a research facility in Antarctica. Finally, Santa headed up through South America, bound for the United States. It is estimated that Santa unloaded approximately 100,000 gifts every second, accumulating to a remarkable total of 4.9 billion presents as of 0130 GMT Monday, according to the tracker.

Although the Santa tracker brings immense joy to children worldwide, it is important to recognize NORAD’s other crucial responsibilities. When not spreading holiday cheer, NORAD conducts aerospace and maritime control and warning operations. This includes monitoring for missile launches from North Korea, a responsibility that may be on Santa’s mind as he navigates the world’s airspace during his Christmas Eve journey.

A Timeless Tradition of Joy

The NORAD Santa tracker exemplifies the power of tradition, spreading love and happiness during the holiday season. It serves as a reminder of the magic and wonder that accompanies Christmas, especially for children. The dedicated volunteers and the enthusiastic participation of dignitaries demonstrate the widespread appeal and enduring charm of this heartwarming initiative. As the Santa tracker continues to evolve with technology, it will undoubtedly bring joy to countless children, preserving the spirit of Christmas for generations to come.


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