NORAC keeps track of Santa's trip

Published 7:34 pm Monday, December 26, 2005

By By Patrick McCreless
Every year, Santa travels the globe to deliver toys to good girls and boys and for almost 50 years, NORAD has made sure that his trip has been a safe one.
"We track Santa when he lifts off from the North Pole and follow him around the globe for 24 hours … because Santa's flying and a lot of people depend on him," said Master Sgt. John Tomassi of NORAD.
This Christmas is the 50th anniversary that NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa. NORAD is the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace defense of the United States and Canada.
According to information from NORAD, the Santa tracking tradition began after a Colorado Springs based Sears Roebuck and Co. store advertisement for children to call Santa on a special hotline included a misprinted telephone number. Instead of Santa, the number put kids through to the CONAD commander-in-chief's operations hotline. CONRAD received the first Santa phone call on Christmas Eve, 1955.
Realizing what had happened, the CONRAD director of operations had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Signs of Santa were found, and kids were given updates on his position.
NORAD relies on many volunteers to help make the tracking of Santa possible. Many people from Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base spend part of their Christmas Eve at NORAD's Santa Tracking Operations Center to answer phones and provide Santa updates to children who call in.
The operators answer many of the same questions on Christmas Eve, says Tomassi, such as "where is Santa,
when is he going to be at my house," and "is this really NORAD?"
"Last year, we received 55,000 phone calls on Chirstmas Eve," Tomassi said.
Besides the Santa hotline, NORAD also has a website devoted to the tracking of St. Nick. Children can follow the progress of Santa on the site, as well as learn how NORAD is able to track Santa's sleigh.
To find out where Santa is at, call the NORAD hotline on Christmas Eve at 1-877-HI-NORAD. Visit NORAD's website at

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