Why NORAD Started Tracking Santa

December 2, 2020

Since it was established in 1958, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has protected the airspace above the United States and Canada, watching for intruders and launching interceptors to challenge any that may try to penetrate the defences of North America.

Except one.

Every year, on December 24, one flying object is meticulous tracked and reported on as it makes its annual journey across both countries, delivering critical supplies.


In fact the United States Air Force (USAF) began tracking Father Christmas before NORAD existed. In 1955 a local newspaper informed children that they could call Santa directly. Unfortunately they misprinted the contact number.

Instead of Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD. Starting to get a flood of young callers, Col. Shoup realized there was a crisis in the making and did what any responsible adult would do.

He lied his butt off, saying that he was, indeed, Father Christmas. He then assigned an officer to continue answering calls.

Thus, the holiday tradition was born. When NORAD formed three years later they continued to offer the tracking service to children though out America, which this year marks it’s sixty-fifth anniversary.

Now also a website, NORAD continues to entertain children in the festive season.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

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