For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight.
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.”
The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, which started the tradition.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defence command for North America called NORAD which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. To protect North America and track Santa, NORAD uses 47 radar installations strung across Canada’s North and Alaska, a network of satellites with infrared sensors, high-speed SantaCam viewable online, and jet fighters.
Canadian NORAD fighter pilots have the honour of welcoming Santa to North America. Every year, Canadian fighter pilots fly the CF-18 out of Newfoundland and welcome Santa to North America. Then at numerous locations in Canada, other CF-18 fighter pilots escort Santa.
Tonight, on Christmas Eve, children can call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to speak with a live agent on Santa’s current location.
At the time of publication, with 15 hours to go until midnight on the West Coast, Santa has reached Nepal and already delivered over 1.7-billion presents.
And finally, there is no doubt in our minds that Santa Claus is Canadian. After all, he has a Canadian passport.
Have a Merry Christmas, Vancouver!