For the past twelve years, I have published a small blurb at the end of our December Event Calendar alerting children and their parents that they could track Santa’s flight at NoradSanta.org. This website is simply wonderful, and I enjoyed using it on Christmas Eve with my daughter and son when they were younger. I though it was time to share some of the history of this wonderful endeavor that delights children worldwide.
How to track Santa Claus in Arizona
NORAD Tracks Santa is an annual Christmas-themed entertainment program, which has existed since 1955, produced under the auspices of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Every year on Christmas Eve, “NORAD Tracks Santa” purports to track Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world. The program is in the tradition of the September 1897 editorial “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” in the NY Sun.
The program began on December 24, 1955 when a Sears department store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper which told children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call. However, the telephone number printed was incorrect and calls instead came through to Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center. Colonel Shoup, who was on duty that night, told his staff to give all children that called in a “current location” for Santa Claus. A tradition began which continued when the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) replaced CONAD in 1958.
Today, NORAD relies on volunteers to make the program possible. Each volunteer handles about forty telephone calls per hour, and the team typically handles more than 12,000 e-mails and more than 117,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries and territories. Most of these contacts happen during the twenty-five hours from 2 a.m. on December 24 until 3 a.m. MST on December 25. NORAD reported that for Christmas 2013, it logged 19.58 million unique visitors to its website on Christmas Eve. Through social media, it had 146,307 Twitter followers and 1.45 million “likes” on Facebook.
Welcome to winter in Arizona. No matter where you’re visiting from, we’re glad to have you. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or simply enjoy this time of year, we wish you a very joyous Holiday Season and extend our best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.