The North American Aerospace Defense Command is celebrating the 65th Anniversary of tracking Santa's yuletide journey around the globe! The NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, launching Dec. 1, features Santa's North Pole Village, which includes a holiday countdown, games, movie theater, holiday music, webstore, and more. The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.
The official NORAD Tracks Santa app has been updated for 2020 and is also available in the Apple App and Google Play stores, so parents and children can count down the days until Santa's launch on their smart phones and tablets. Tracking opportunities are also offered through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, as well as on partner platforms Amazon Alexa and OnStar.
Starting at 4 a.m. EST on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight. NORAD's "Santa Cams" will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations. Then, at 6 a.m. EST, trackers worldwide can call to inquire as to Santa's whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) where they will either speak with a live phone operator or hear a recorded update. Due to COVID concerns, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center will have fewer phone operators, so callers who do not reach a volunteer will hear a regularly updated recording as to Santa's current location. Anytime on Dec. 24, Amazon Alexa users can ask for Santa's location through the NORAD Tracks Santa skill for Amazon Alexa, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa.
Tracking Santa has been a tradition since 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly – only the contact number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD. Col. Shoup was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the child he was Santa. Shoup then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls. Thus, a holiday tradition was born, which NORAD has carried on since it was created in 1958. Each year since, NORAD has reported Santa's location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families around the world.