Merry Christmas! HO HO HO!So ... if you ever believed in Santa between 1955 and today, you may have heard of a little thing called the Official NORAD Santa Tracker, which is still a pretty big deal for about 20 million kids around the world when December rolls around.The Santa Tracker has a long and storied history that has since grown into a holiday tradition –complete with its own website
– which is actually pretty neat, and features some cool stats and holiday stuff kids love.NORAD & Santa Tracker: One Serious Mission
For those who aren’t familiar, though, Santa Tracker is a full-blown military operation conducted by the North American Aerospace Defense Command
, which is a no-kidding U.S. Air Force unit charged with patrolling the skies over the land of the free … and Canada.Okay, so maybe it’s not an actual military operation, but NORAD is all too real and it really does patrol the skies. In fact, there’s a fair chance one of its many fighter jets is screeching somewhere over your state right now.But, what about Santa – how did he fall under the watchful eye of NORAD? Sears, Roebuck & Co.: Top Secret Misprint
As the story goes, it all started when Col. Harry Shoup, commander of the NORAD Combat Alert Center, received a call on the “red phone” back in December 1955. Though the top-secret number was reserved for nuclear emergencies only, it somehow ended up in a Sears catalog as Santa’s North Pole hotline
.Col. Shoup was not amused, but he saw a chance to turn a security blunder into a morale booster for his troops by telling the press that they had spotted a sleigh on the NORAD radar.From then on, it was NORAD’s duty to report on Santa’s whereabouts during the holiday season.Today’s Santa Trackers: A Volunteer Force
Col. Shoup passed away in 2009, having lived the life of hero to both his troops and to millions of kids the world over. And, his legacy lives on.This Christmas, NORAD staff and their family members volunteer to answer calls, emails and letters from children on the lookout for Kris Kringle. In 2015, NORAD reports that upwards of 1,200 volunteers
are set to help out.We hope they – and you – have a very happy holiday, and a merry Christmas!