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The history of tracking Santa: what started with a wrong number has become a long-standing tradition

NORAD helps people track Santa around the globe
Santa Sleigh
Posted at 10:45 PM, Dec 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-19 22:45:06-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, C.O. — The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD for short, helps keep our skies safe throughout the year. But around the holidays you may know them best for tracking Santa.

The tradition started back in 1955.

"The paper put the wrong number out for a Santa hotline, and so a child called into our Continental Defense Commands Operations Center and the Colonel that answered the phone quickly realized the child was looking for Santa," said Col. Kevin Minor with NORAD.

Santa heard about the mishap and got an idea...

"He got in contact with us and allows us to track him every year while he goes around the globe bringing presents to children," said Minor.

A lot has changed since 1955. NORAD used to only answer questions about where Santa was on Christmas Eve over the phone. Now he can be tracked on NORAD's Santa tracker website.

"And each year we're adding new languages and new capabilities. So this year we added Korean into the languages we have, and we now have a Santa tracker spot in Seoul to allow children to see while he's in Seoul what he's doing in South Korea," said Minor.

NORAD's Santa tracker website is now offered in nine languages total.

You won't actually be able to see Santa make his way around the globe until he's scheduled do so on December 24th. But you can listen to Santa's favorite music and play Christmas games on the NORAD website until then.