For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa. The tradition began after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. store advertisement for children to call Santa on a special "hotline" included an inadvertently misprinted telephone number. Instead of Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first "Santa" call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing what had happened, Colonel Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa's position. Thus, the tradition was born. In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for the North American continent called the North American Air Defense Command, known as NORAD. Canada and the U.S. believed they could better defend North America together as a team instead of separately.
NORAD carried out its first Santa tracking in 1958 after inheriting the tradition from CONAD. Since that time, Canadian and American men and women who work at NORAD have responded to phone calls from children personally. Additionally, media from all over the world call NORAD on Christmas Eve for updates on Santa's location. Last year this Website was visited by millions of people who wanted to know Santa's whereabouts. This year, the information is provided in six languages.
NORAD relies on many volunteers to help make Santa tracking possible. Hundreds of volunteers spend part of their Christmas Eve at the Santa Tracking Operations Center answering phones and emails to provide Santa updates to thousands of inquiring children worldwide.
check out the totally realistic video.
also of note, the things to do page has mp3s of christmas music. it's mostly pretty standard stuff, but then there's a puzzling track called "santa wants a tuba for christmas".
perhaps even stranger is the celebrities section, full of videos of people i've never heard of telling NORAD how much they f'n rock for tracking santa and stuff. seriously, i've heard of maybe a third of these people, and most of them are washed up. (but not edward james olmos; he's still got it.) ¶