NORAD once again providing real-time updates on Santa’s flight

Published 10:36 pm Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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Even though Christmas may look a little different for many people this year, Santa Claus will still take to the skies and when he does the good folks at NORAD will once again track his flight.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), headquartered at Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been tracking Santa’s flight from the North Pole for 65 years now. And even a global pandemic won’t stop them.

“Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the NORAD Tracks Santa program is on schedule and NORAD will track Santa on Dec. 24, as we have done every year since 1955,” officials said in a statement earlier this month.

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NORAD has been tracking Santa since 1955 when a young child accidently dialed the unlisted phone number of the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, believing she was calling Santa Claus after seeing a promotion in a local newspaper.

Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night, was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the youngster that CONAD would guarantee Santa a safe journey from the North Pole.

Thus, a tradition was born that rolled over to NORAD when it was formed in 1958. Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions across the globe.

Though the program began due to a misdialed number, NORAD Tracks Santa has flourished and is recognized as one of the Department of Defense’s largest community outreach programs.

Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site receives nearly 15 million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Volunteers receive more than 130,000 calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline from children around the globe.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website, social media pages, a new mobile app and partner platforms will again be an important part of the program allowing children around the world to track Santa.

However, the NORAD Tracks Santa call center is being adapted due to ongoing public health concerns due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.  This year, only a small number of volunteers will be answering the NORAD Tracks Santa toll-free number, 1-877-Hi-NORAD, on Dec. 24. Callers who cannot reach one of these volunteers will receive a recorded update on Santa’s current location. 

“While NORAD understands the call center is an important tradition for many families around the world, we reduce the health risks posed by attempting to conduct a large indoor, in-person, call center during the pandemic,” officials said. “ NORAD is committed to tracking Santa while keeping our military, their families, and our dedicated call center volunteers safe.”

Santa trackers can visit or use new mobile apps to get up-to-the-minute Santa statistics. These apps will soon be available on Google Play and the Apple App Store. Fans can also track Santa with a variety of other NORAD Tracks Santa partners, to include OnStar and Amazon Alexa.