The Christmas Eve Tradition continues, as this is the thirteenth straight year I’ve begun the day with NORAD Tracks Santa. NTS tracks the travels of Santa Claus all day long, and you can monitor where he is at any given time online.
This year, however, I wanted to post the story of how NORAD Tracks Santa came to be.
On November 30, 1955, a phone rang on Col. Harry Shoup’s desk at Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD). CONAD was tasked with watching for a Soviet attack by air and alerting Strategic Air Command. In the midst of the Cold War, a phone call to Colonel Shoup’s desk could have brought critical news for national security.
However, when Colonel Shoup answered, the little voice on the other end asked “Is this Santa Claus?”
The colonel effectively told the kid to get bent, but eventually things changed.
Why call CONAD to reach Santa? It all started with a misdial. That year, Sears ran an ad where Santa invited young people to “Call me direct on my telephone.” However, one caller didn’t heed the ad’s warning to “be sure and dial the correct number,” and instead reached Colonel Shoup—sparking a chain of events that would become a Christmas tradition.
The week of Christmas, Shoup’s staff added Santa and his sleigh to the plexiglass map CONAD used to track unidentified aircraft. The joke sparked an idea and CONAD told press they “will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the U.S. against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas.”
If you get a chance, read the entire article. It’s an amazing piece.
That said, if you have young ones in the house, you can follow Santa by clicking here.