NORAD Tracks Santa

NORAD is best known for tracking ICBMs with its state-of-the-art command center depicted in the 1983 movie War Games. Perhaps you don’t know that NORAD also tracks Santa Claus, this year in partnership with Google.

If you’re mobile on Christmas Eve, as many folks are (including the big guy himself), then you will be pleased to know there’s a new mobile interface and that this year you can also track Santa with Twitter via @noradsanta.

From a Computerworld story:

“The partnership between Google and NORAD to bring the NORAD Tracks Santa Program to children around the world has been a perfect fit,” said Stacia Reddish, a NORAD Tracks Santa program manager. “Google has the server power needed for the program, and the fabulous people required in the mapping arena to ensure children know where Santa will be as he makes his trek around the globe.”

While this isn’t the first time that Google has helped people track Santa’s big trip, this is the first year that they can follow him via their mobile phones with Google Maps for Mobile, and using Twitter by adding @noradsanta.

If you wonder why they do this, the noradsanta site, actually offers an explanation, including a fascinating bit of history of how the tradition started:

For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s Christmas Eve flight.

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. 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 radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born. To listen to Colonel Shoup talk about the experience, click here.

Finally, NORAD actually weighs in on the weighty issue of whether Santa Claus is real, including a link to Virginia’s famous letter to The Sun.

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