The Santa Norad Tracker is an entertainment program designed for the Christmas holiday. It has been around since 1955. The Christmas program is run by the North American Aerospace Defense Command or NORAD. Norad tracks Santa’s journey every Christmas Eve and follows Santa from the time he leaves the North Pole to deliver presents to children all over the world. The program is in the tradition of the September 1897 editorial that was published in the New York Sun, called “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.
On December 24, 1944 the Santa Norad Tracker officially began. There was an ad that the Sears department store placed in a Colorado Springs newspaper that listed a phone number so children could call Santa Clause. However, the number that was printed in the advertisement was incorrect and the number led to the Colorado Springs Continental Air Defense Command Center or CONAD. Colonel Shoup was on duty that night and had directed his staff to go ahead and give the children that called the location Santa Clause. Since 1958 the North American Aerospace Defense Command Center or NORAD took over the operations from CONAD.
The Santa Norad Tracker relies completely on volunteers to make the program happen each year. Each volunteer handles around 40 calls per hour and with the entire system of volunteers, there will be over 12,000 emails and over 70,000 phone calls answered. This covers over two hundred countries and territories that participate in the program. 25 hours prior to Christmas Eve is when the majority of these calls take place.
By 2007, Google Analytics was being used to help analyze the traffic that the Norad Santa Tracker website was receiving. The program was able to help determine the size of the program, how many volunteers would be needed and the amount of computer equipment and phone equipment was to be used prior to the night leading up to Christmas Eve. In 2012, the Santa Norad Tracker can also be found on Facebook with over 1 million fans and 98,418 Twitter followers.
Publicity for the Santa Norad Tracker has been arranged by the Northeast Air Defense Sector, New York Air National Guard, U.S. Naval Reserve, Navy Information Bureau in Fort Carson, Colorado, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and even the Canadian Forces too.