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Track Santa: NORAD is up and running

Published: Sunday, December 24, 2017 @ 5:48 AM
By: Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

It’s Christmas Eve, and the U.S. military squadron charged with protecting the airspace for North America is already on duty to track Santa Claus.

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The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will be tracking St. Nick and his eight reindeer as they trek across the country Sunday night.

NORAD said in a statement that the public can access its official Santa Tracker, which went live at 2:01 a.m. ET on Sunday. The public can track Santa’s position and access NORAD's “Santa Cams” in anticipation of Christmas morning.

Starting at 6 a.m. ET on Christmas Eve, the public also can call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) and speak live with NORAD trackers. 

The Santa Tracker program began in 1955 because of a mistake in a Colorado Springs newspaper advertisement from Sears Roebuck & Co. The Sears ad misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa, CNN reported. The phone number published was actually for the commander in chief's operations hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), which was NORAD's predecessor.

On Dec. 24, 1955, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup was on duty, and instead of hanging up on countless children that night, Shoup checked the radar and updated Santa Claus’ “location.” That 1955 misprint and Shoup's actions started a 62-year tradition that is made possible today by volunteers and corporate sponsors who bear the expense, CNN reported.