Vintage Footage Reveals How NORAD Tracks Santa

The Unwritten Record

This Christmas Eve, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will have tracked Santa Claus’s journey around the world for 60 years.

norad-santa A NORAD staff member uses a radar scope to monitor Santa’s progress. (Still from 330-DVIC-39346)

Colonel Harry Shoup began the tradition in 1955, after receiving a phone call from a child expecting to reach Santa Claus. The misdirected call was the result of the child reversing two numbers of a Santa Line phone number printed in a Sears advertisement.

Colonel Shoup ran with the idea, and began releasing updates on Santa’s whereabouts to the press.

In 1974, the NORAD released this footage to television stations in order to show the public how NORAD’s Santa tracking operations worked.

This year, 1,250 volunteers will staff the NORAD phone lines. The volunteers are a mix of Canadian and American military personnel and Department of Defense civilians. The Santa Tracker hotline can be reached…

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