Sunday, December 20, 2009
Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus and NORAD is tracking his every move
For more than 50 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its predecessor, Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve flight, providing Santa, his reindeer, and sleigh, safe and unimpeded air space over North America and Canada, while sharing information with children, on Santa’s minute-by-minute progress around the globe.
NORAD is staffed by the good folks who keep our skies safe, 24 hours a day, seven days week with radar and intercept aircraft, and this time of year, they also invite you to their NORAD Tracks Santa web site where you can keep an eye on Santa’s Christmas flight right along with them in real time.
At the NORAD site, children, parents and caregivers will see a brief video of television personality, Kelly Ripa, as she explains the Santa tracking project, and on Christmas Eve day, you’ll come back to this same page and see images from the “Santa Cams” that have been pre-positioned around the world to catch glimpses of Santa, the reindeer and his sleigh.
You’ll also track Santa by downloading a free application of Google Earth, available from the NORAD web site, as well as following Santa's progress on NORAD’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
If you prefer, on December 24, you can send an email to a NORAD staff member at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will give you Santa’s last known location in a return email.
Plus, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center phone lines will be fully operational beginning at 4:00 a.m. MST on December 24, and you can call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to talk directly to a NORAD staff member who will tell you Santa’s exact location!
While you’re waiting for the big day, NORAD provides some fun and games during the countdown at "Santa’s Village," where you click on any shop in the village, and find an interesting activity that is inside each of the different buildings.
There are also special pages where you’ll see and hear Santa read the Night Before Christmas in a pre-recorded video, and learn lots of interesting facts about the big guy in red, everything from his sleigh’s technical data to how he gets down a chimney.
For Santa skeptics there is even a page where you can listen to the reading of a real letter, which was written to a newspaper in 1897 by eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, questioning the existence of Santa, and hear the newspaper editor’s touching and thoughtful reply.
There is also information about appropriate “Santa Snacks” to leave out for the main man, and pages about NORAD – "why" they track Santa and details on how the tracking is actually done.
The NORAD Tracks Santa website is a non-profit organization funded solely through corporate donations, and is fully staffed by an all-volunteer crew who love children, Christmas, and honor the memory of Colonel Harry Shoup, (Retired) USAF, who by serendipity in 1955, became NORAD’s very first Santa Tracker.