Where Is Santa Right Now?
NORAD, formerly the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), has been tracking Santa’s Christmas Eve flight for more than 50 years.
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. 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 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.
Shoup is now 91, and described by his daughter, Terri Van Keuran, as “a nut about Christmas.” When kids got through to Shoup instead of the Sears Santa, he pretended to be St. Nick so as not to break their hearts. This led to Shoup directing his staff to begin tracking Santa by radar.
“If we didn’t do it, truly I don’t know who else would track Santa,” Maj. Stacia Reddish said.
The task that began with no computers and only a 60-by-80-foot glass map of North America now includes two big screens on a wall showing the world and information on each country Santa Claus visits. It took off with the Web site’s 1997 launch, Reddish said.
Now, curious youngsters can follow Santa’s path online with a Google two-dimensional map or in 3D using Google Earth, where he can be seen flying through different landscapes in his sleigh.
Here, Shoup explains how the tradition began. Track Santa by clicking on Santa’s sleigh.
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