A tradition that started over 50 years ago continues this year, as the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, will once again track the Christmas Eve journey of Santa Claus around the world. "We track every object in the skies over North America and the approaches to North America," says Lt. Al Blondin of the Royal Canadian Navy, who is also one of the officers at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. "On Christmas Eve, because Santa Claus leaves the North Pole, we actually track his flight as well."
What began in 1955 with an accidental wrong number phone call from a child looking for Saint Nick has grown into an annual tradition and worldwide phenomenon. "That's how the whole program started, with a phone call to our operation center, and we've continued the mission ever since," Lt. Blondin tells KTRH. "We had 102,000 phone calls last year." Although those calls continue to pour in and increase in volume as Christmas approaches, NORAD has made it easier to track Santa's journey with other technology, most notably the Santa Tracking Map, seen below. There are also official NORAD Tracks Santa apps now available for the iPhone, Windows Phone, or Android.
NORAD Santa Tracking Map:
For old school folks, the toll-free number to check on Saint Nick's flight is 1-877-HI-NORAD. Lt. Blondin describes the Operations Center as a "madhouse" this time of year, but they wouldn't have it any other way. "Actually, we're just continuing to do what we do the whole rest of the year," he says. "NORAD is on watch 24-7, 365 days a year." Nevertheless, the only place bustling more on this particular day of the year is the North Pole.