Defending North America is the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) #1 priority. NORAD monitors and defends North American airspace 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
On December 24, NORAD has one additional mission: that of tracking Santa Claus as he makes his way across the globe, delivering presents to children. This is NORAD’s 67th year tracking Santa and it’s a tradition the Command is proud to continue each year.
Visit Santa's Online North Pole
The NORAD Tracks Santa website ( www.noradsanta.org) features Santa’s North Pole Village, where families can play games, watch movies about Santa, listen to holiday music, shop in the webstore... and of course, Track Santa!
The official NORAD Tracks Santa app is also in the Apple App and Google Play stores, so parents and children can count down the days until Santa’s journey on their smart phones and tablets. Tracking opportunities are also offered through social media on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, as well as on partner platforms: Bing, Amazon Alexa and OnStar.
Starting at 4 a.m. EST on December 24, website visitors can see updates as Santa makes preparations for his flight. Then, at 6 a.m. EST, trackers worldwide can call to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) where they will either speak with a live phone operator or hear a recorded update.
How It Began
In 1955, a newspaper ad invited children to call Santa Claus. The ad said, "Hey Kiddies! Call me direct and be sure and dial the correct number!" Only the contact number was misprinted.
Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, now known as the Santa Colonel, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD. Col. Shoup was quick to realize a mistake had been made, and assured the first child who called that he was Santa. Shoup then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls. Thus, a holiday tradition was born, which NORAD has carried on since it was created in 1958.
Every Dec. 24, NORAD has the very special mission of tracking Santa using the same systems they use every day: satellite systems, high-powered radar and jet fighters.
A Global Experience
NORAD Tracks Santa is truly a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere. The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese. Each year since, NORAD has reported Santa’s location on December 24 to millions of children and families around the world. Volunteers respond to more than 12,000 e-mails and answer over 70,000 phone calls from children around the globe.