Rest assured, kids of all ages: Santa’s coming this Christmas Eve.
That’s the word from the joint U.S.-Canadian military operation that for 67 years has been tracking Jolly Old St. Nicholas on his global mission and has assured us all — first by landline and more recently by iPhone, Android, OnStar, Facebook, YouTube and more — that he’s on his way with a sleigh stuffed with toys and a welcome dose of joy.
In what’s become its own wildly popular tradition, the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense Command provides real-time updates on Santa’s progress Dec. 24, from 4 a.m. to midnight MST. NORAD’s Santa Tracker lets families watch Father Christmas in 3D as he transits the South Pacific, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
NORAD had some technical issues with the streaming tracker early Saturday, but those problems were resolved after a couple of hours. “Thank you for your patience! We are up and running! (Santa has been up for hours.) Santa is now over the Solomon Islands,” NORAD wrote on its Facebook page at 7:30 a.m. ET.
From deep inside NORAD headquarters, dozens of volunteers field an unrelenting wave of phone calls to 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723). They and other volunteers will answer such questions as “When will he come to my house? What kind of cookies does he like?” said program manager and NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter.
Want to watch?
Watch live in the media player above or visit https://www.noradsanta.org, check out #NORADTracksSanta and @NoradSanta on Twitter, or use the associated apps. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest.
NORAD’s Santa-tracking origins
Like any good Christmas tale, the program’s origin has been told for generations.
In 1955, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup — the on-duty commander one night at NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command — answered a call from a child who dialed a number that was misprinted in an ad in a newspaper, thinking she was calling Santa.
Shoup “answered the call, thought it was a prank at first, but then realized what had happened and assured the child that he was Santa, and thus started the tradition,” Schlachter said.
Associated Press journalist Terry Chea in San Francisco contributed to this report.