Children eager to know when Santa Claus will arrive can use a tool to track him across the globe — a Christmas Eve tradition that started with an accidental call.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) says the annual Santa tracker was born 65 years ago, when a child picked up a phone thinking she would reach Saint Nick.
It turns out, the young girl dialed an unlisted line for the military’s Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado.
When Air Force Col. Harry Shoup figured out the girl had made a mistake, he told her his team “would guarantee Santa a safe journey from the North Pole.”
“Thus a tradition was born that rolled over to NORAD when it was formed in 1958,” officials said. “Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions across the globe.”
These days, officials say the NORAD Tracks Santa program receives almost 15 million website visitors and thousands of calls per year.
This Christmas Eve, people wanting to know Santa’s whereabouts can visit noradsanta.org or download an app that has a tracking feature and games. Families can also call 877-Hi-NORAD, where the number of volunteers answering phones will be limited due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Sacramento Bee reported.
Besides sharing updates on Santa’s journey, NORAD keeps track of everything that travels through the air over and around our continent, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.