New York Air National Guardsmen from the Eastern Air Defense Sector will play a key role Wednesday night as the North American Aerospace Defense Command tracks Santa Claus and his reindeer.
"NORAD has supported Santa Claus' Christmas Eve operations for more than 50 years, and we are always delighted to help," said Col. Michael J. Norton, EADS commander. "I can assure everyone that EADS will do everything in its power to assist Santa with his critical mission."
EADS' Sector Operations Control Center will monitor Santa constantly as he travels across the eastern U.S. delivering toys and gifts. These activities are in support of the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, which leads the Santa monitoring effort.
NORAD starts its Santa tracking operation at 5 a.m. EST Dec. 24. Children and parents can call the NORAD operations floor at 1-877-446-6723 for live updates on Santa or track Santa on the Web at http://www.noradsanta.org/. The operations floor also can be contacted via email at [email protected].
Santa tracking operations videos are available on YouTube. NORAD has its Santa tracking holiday trailer available at https://www.youtube.com/user/NORADTracksSanta and the Continental U.S. NORAD Command at Tyndall AFB, Florida, demonstrates its Christmas Eve preparations at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4JyZ1rLTC8&feature=youtu.be.
The Santa tracking tradition started in 1955, when a Colorado Springs Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement encouraging local children to call Santa listed an incorrect phone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number went into to the Continental Air Defense Command's operations hotline. Col. Harry Shoup, the operations director, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given location updates and a tradition was born.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the U.S. created the binational air defense command North American Aerospace Defense Command, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
The Eastern Air Defense Sector is headquartered at Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome. Staffed by active-duty New York Air National Guardsmen and a Canadian Forces detachment, the unit supports NORAD's integrated warning and attack assessment missions and the U.S. Northern Command's homeland defense mission. EADS is responsible for air sovereignty and counter-air operations over the eastern U.S., and directs a variety of assets to defend 1 million square miles of land and sea.