NORAD offers eyes, ears for Santa trackers


Many people don’t know this, but NORAD actually has a dual purpose.

“The North American Aerospace Defense Command is a United States and Canada binational organization charged with the mission of aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in the defense of North America,” according to the agency’s website.

But there’s more: 

“We also track Santa Claus every Dec. 24 through our NORAD Tracks Santa program,” the site continues.

The tradition started in 1955, and NORAD now uses its satellites, high-powered radar, jet fighters and “special Santa cameras” to track Santa Claus as he makes his journey around the world. 

“Our constellation of defense satellites use infrared radar to keep pinpoint accuracy on the heat signature on Rudolf’s nose,” explains a video on the NORAD site. “Ground base radar sites relay updates.”

Santa’s history

As the legend goes, it all began with an innocuous misprint.

A Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. ad misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa.

Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the then-Continental Air Defense Command’s commander-in-chief’s operations hotline. The then-Director of Operations 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.

Ever since, tt’s been a tradition to track Santa ever since. The site is now used by millions of people across the globe each year to track Santa.

Featuring Santa’s North Pole Village, the NORAD website,, includes a holiday countdown, games and activities.

New digital tracking

Starting Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make his last-minute flight preparations.  The “Santa Cams” will then stream videos on the website as St. Nick makes his annual trip around the world.

Santa enthusiasts, and those just curious on his whereabouts, can speak with a live operator to inquire as to a more precise location for Santa. The toll-free number to call is 877-Hi-NORAD (877-446-6723) or by you can send an email to [email protected]. 

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