How a misdial turned into a Santa tracking tradition

Regional News

(Photo by Tony Lewis/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (WWTI) — The North American Aerospace Defense Command will celebrate its 66th year of tracking Santa Claus this year on Christmas Eve.

Since tracking Santa’s trip around the world is not an easy task, NORAD will receive help from the New York Air National Guardsmen, and Royal Canadian Air Force personnel at the Eastern Air Defense Sector. Colonel Paul M. Bishop, EADS Commander said they are honored to contribute.

“We’re delighted to support NORAD’s Santa tracking operations,” Bishop said. “I can assure everyone that EADS will do everything in its power to assist Santa with his critical mission.”

According to New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the tradition began in 1955 in a unique way. At the time, a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly, however, the contact number was misprinted and the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup.

Shoup worked at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center which was the predecessor to NORAD. When Shoup realized what had happened on a call, he quickly assured the child that he was Santa. Shoup then assigned a duty officer to continue answering the calls.

NORAD has since taken over the tradition and added to it. Since its creation in 1958 NORAD has reported Santa’s location on December 24 to millions of children and families around the world.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website launched on December 1 this year and is available in eight different languages. The website features Santa’s North Pole Village, a holiday countdown, games, a movie theater, holiday music, webstore, and more.

Families can also track Santa using the NORAD Tracks Santa app. Tracking opportunities are also offered through social media on Facebook, Twitter YouTube and Instagram, as well as on partner platforms Bing, Amazon Alexa and OnStar.

More information on tracking Sanat and the story behind the tradition can be found here.

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