For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight.
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa’s whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website.
Finally, media from all over the world rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide updates on Santa’s journey.
In Memory of Retired Colonel Harry Shoup,
NORAD’s First Santa Tracker
September 29, 1917 – March 14, 2009
“Each and every day throughout the year, all of us here at NORAD work diligently to defend and protect our nations. It is an honor for us to take one day each year to expand our missions to share goodwill and holiday spirit across the globe through the NORAD Tracks Santa program. We owe all of this to Colonel Shoup, whose good humor in responding to that first call so long ago began our Santa-tracking tradition, and we’re proud to carry this mission along to this day. Colonel Shoup is a legend at NORAD, and through NORAD Tracks Santa, his legacy will live on forever.”
General Charles H. Jacoby, Jr.