Where in the world is Santa Claus?
The 62nd annual North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Santa tracker will go live on Sunday. The website also has a tour of Santa’s village, and holidays games, movies and music.
NORAD, a United States and Canada bi-national organization that provides aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America, has been following Santa’s journey as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents around the globe on Christmas Eve since 1955.
The holiday tradition started with a mistake.
An advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper that year invited kids to call Santa, but it mistakenly listed the number for the hotline at NORAD’s predecessor – the U.S. Continental Air Defense Command. CONAD, as it was called, had the job of monitoring a vast radar network from a combat operations center in Colorado Springs, searching the skies for any hint of a nuclear attack by the onetime Soviet Union.
Col. Harry Shoup, who was in charge of the operations center, took the first child’s call. Once he figured out what was happening, he played along, he said in a 1999 interview with The Associated Press.
“Here I am saying, ‘Ho, ho, ho, I am Santa,'” said Shoup, who died in 2009. “The crew was looking at me like I had lost it.”
He told his staff what was happening and told them to play along, too.
NORAD added its Santa-tracking website in 1997. It went on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in 2008. Mobile apps came in 2011, Instagram in 2016. This year, NORAD is partnering for the first time with smart home digital assistants like Alexa and Cortana as well as the in-vehicle service platform OnStar.
Last year, NORAD Tracks Santa got nearly 154,200 phone calls and drew 10.7 million unique visitors to its website. It snared 1.8 million Facebook followers, 382,000 YouTube views and 177,000 Twitter followers.