It is only December 1, there are still leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner, and the kids are already asking, “When is Santa Coming?” How is he going to reach all of the children all over the world? When exactly is Santa going to get to our house? And you have got 24 more days until Santa is actually scheduled to come. The questions don’t stop. Even when you are trying to play a game of PlayCroco Casino.
But don’t worry. The NORAD Santa Tracker has got your back — as well as helping to protect Santa on his important mission. So sit the children down, and let’s talk about the history of the relationship between Santa and NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command).
What is the history of the NORAD Santa Tracker?
The history of the NORAD Santa Tracker actually has its roots in a 1897 Newspaper Article titled, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.
The editorial appeared in the September 21, 1897, edition of The Sun, a New York City newspaper of the time. The original editorial had such an impact on society, that this editorial was republished every year between 1924 and 1950, when the paper finally ceased to be published. But many other newspapers continue to publish this editorial. It has become one of the most republished editorials to exist.
On December 24, 1948, the United States Air Force issued a communication claiming that an early warning radar net to the North had “detected” one unidentified sleigh, powered by eight reindeer, at 14,000 ft (4,300 meters), heading 180 degrees. The Associated Press passed this “report” to the general public. It was the first time that the United States Air Force had issued a statement about tracking Santa Claus’ sleigh on Christmas Eve. It was a one time event that was not repeated for several years.
NORAD was formed in 1956, but the annual tradition of tracking Santa started on December 24, 1955, before NORAD officially existed. The Gazette placed an ad from Sears in the paper that told children that they could place a call to Santa Claus and included the number ME 2-6681. But due to the fact that one number was accidently misprinted, the actual calls went into the Continental Air Defense Command Center (CONAD). Actualy, there are different versions of the story. Some said the number was misprinted, while others say a child misdialed.
The final official version of the story was that on November 30, 1955, a child trying to reach Santa on the hotline number provided by in the Sear’s advertisement misdialled the number and instead reached Shoup at his desk at CONAD.
Later, in December, a CONAD worker placed a picture of Santa on the board used to track unidentified aircraft, and Shoup saw a public relations opportunity for CONAD. he asked CONAD’s public affairs officer Colonel Barney Oldfield to inform the press that CONAD was tracking Santa’s sleigh. In his release to the press, Oldfield added that “CONAD, Army, Navy, and Marine Air Forces will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the U.S. against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas.”
At first, Shoup did not originally intended to repeat the stunt in 1956. But Colonel Barney Oldfield informed Shoup that the Associated Press and the United Press International were awaiting reports that CONAD was again tracking Santa Claus and providing this protection. And that is how the annual tradition began.
In 1958, the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) took over reporting responsability, and the reporting became more elaborate as the years passed.
The Santa Claus Tracker Today
NORAD relies on volunteers to help main the phones and emails. Each volunteer generally handles about 40 telephone calls per hour. The team handles 12,000 emails and more than 100,000 telephone calls from more than 200 countries and territories. Most of this communication happens during the 20 hours from 4 am on December 24 until midnight December 25. A website called NORADSanta.org was established to allow project access for internet users.
NORAD even begins tracking Santa at 12:00 am MST, and depicts Santa’s predelivery ritual.
In 2015, more than 1,200 military volunteers from both the US and Canada participated in the program. By 2018, there were 1,500 volunteers.
Review of NORADSanta.org
I am reviewing this website after Christmas, so I cannot comment on how the website functioned actually on Christmas eve.
The main page of the website has a very cheerful Christmas pictures. If you move your mouse over the different buildings in the picture, you will get the gift shop, arcade, theater, music stage, library, NORAD HQ, and the Santa Tracker.
The Santa Gift Shop was very disappointing. You can buy a tote bag, a hat, a sweatshirt or a hoodie in black or red. Where is the Santa with his sleigh display or even a map that shows the route that Santa took to get the child’s house? Assuming that the proceeds go “helping Santa”, this is one area of the website that definitely needs to be updated for 2021.
The Arcade is bit more interesting. There are 24 different games to choose from. Starting from December 1, you can do one per day until Christmas. This part I would give 5 stars.
The Theater is also a bit of a disappointment. The link takes the user to NORAD Santa’s YouTube channel, which has a bunch of videos about NORAD tracking santa from previous years. I was kind of hoping to find Christmasy videos. The Story of Christmas, Rudolph, and links to other traditional Christmas classics. This area needs work.
The Music Player is what I expected the Theater to be — a good selection of traditional Christmas music. 41 music selections in all. This is another part of the website I would give 5 stars.
The Library section is interesting. There is some interesting information, but they really need to get together with the people who make the Dr. Seuss interactive books to help redesign this part of the website. This website looks (and sounds) as if the website was written for adults, not children.
NORAD Headquarters. Interesting information, but definitely written for adults instead of being written for children. This is a children’s website. If you are trying to get adults to volunteer or donate money, then make a parent’s section.
Last, but not least, the Santa Tracker. Not sure how this part of the website looked acutally on Christmas, but playing around in this area of the website after Christmas was a disappointment. Basic questions do not get answered. What route did Santa take? Where is the historical data of when Santa reached each location? It is just a globe with a bunch of images of a camera. But when you click on the picture of the camera, the wikipedia article for that location is displayed. Really? Again, this is a children’s website. How many children do you know of what to read a bunch of boring Wikipedia articles on Christmas Eve?
Bottom line is that the NORAD Santa Tracking project is a great idea, and the website is an interesting addition to the project. But NORAD definitely needs to get some educators involved in helpoing to make the website more child friendly.
Some people do not want NORAD to continue to track Santa
Hayes Brown, an MSNBC Opinion Columist does not believe that NORAD should be tracking Santa. He thinks that this tradition should stop. Why? Because he hates the US Military. He says that he also hates war, and war should not be connected with Santa Claus. He also went on to say that the US Military would “accidently” kill Santa, and keep it from the American public.
A person has to really hate Christians to want to get rid of this innocent yearly tradition. There are around 265 countries and territories in the world. 195 are official countries. Children from over 200 of these places call NORAD’s hotline to find out where Santa is. Over 20 million unique visitors visted the NORADSanta.org website each year. Over 100,00 people call the hotline each year. Taking away the Santa Tracker would be like taking away the airline trackers. It is never going to happen.
Plus, just as the US Military protects Santa while Santa is flying in US airspace, the military of other countries are protecting Santa as he flies through their airspace. And with all of that action going on on Christmas Eve, it probably best that NORAD is keeping track of things to make sure nothing is going wrong.
Unfortunately battles have happened on Christmas. Washington cross the Delaware River on Christmas 1776.
But for anybody to even suggest this is a person who has some serious emotional problems.
Weird story of Biden answering a NORAD Santa Tracker call
In 2021, Biden and his wife were answering live phone calls from children on the NORAD Santa Tracker line. A parent who called the hotline was not expecting that the phone call was being broadcast live. After having an informal chat with President Biden, the caller ended the call with the “Let’s go Brandon.” President Biden Replied, “Let’s go Brandon! I agree.” The call was then mysteriously disconnected. A confused Biden then said, “I think that we lost the phone call.” Biden was actually still trying to continue the phone conversation.
The insists that he was joking and meant no harm or disrespect to President Biden. He says that he is a “free thinking American and follower of Jesus Christ.”
Santa knows if you have been naught or nice. It does not matter if you are a child or an adult. But we also have free will. You are the one who controls your life. You can decide if you want to be good or bad. So make the commitment to yourself that you are going to be better today than you were yesterday.
Does the world look like nothing good is happening? Try this exercise for 10 minutes a day for a week.
Each day for at least one week, write down three things that went well for you today, and provide an explanation for why they went well. The items can be small, everyday events or more important milestones. Don’t worry about grammar. Just write for 10 minutes about these positive things. Then you can write about whatever negative stuff you want to write about after that.
As for Santa, I personally hope that the tradition of NORAD tracking Santa and the US Military providing protection for Santa while he flies in US Air Space does not end. It is good for most of the countries in the world to just, for at least one day out of the year, forget all of the reasons why we are different and focus on something that we can call be happy and proud of in a positive way.
So, “Let’s go Santa.”
Oh, and if you can please talk to God about making sure that next year that COVID is a thing of the past (never to be repeated again), it would be much appreciated from all of the “Good boys and girls (and good men and women) of all the religions in all the parts of the world, it would be greatly appreciated.”
Thanks, the good people of the human race.