School’s out, the sleigh is packed, and local kids are counting down to Santa’s arrival. But no need to wonder where he is; the official NORAD Santa Tracker uses the “Santa Cam” to show global images of Santa Claus’s journey around the globe. Not only that, but the tracker will keep count of the snacks left out for Santa throughout his journey.
For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight. NORAD is a bi-national U.S./Canadian military organization responsible for aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning in the defense of North America. Santa Tracker is an entirely volunteer project, where employees give of their time to follow Santa.
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 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.
In 2011, NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa – radar, satellites, Santa cams and fighter jets.
The site includes helpful FAQ’s for children of all ages, including the age-old question, “Is Santa real?” NORAD data confirms his existence, this statement, “Based on historical data and more than 50 years of NORAD tracking information, we believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of children throughout the world.”