The North American Aerospace Defense Command defends the North American airspace 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
On Dec. 24, NORAD will add one element to its mission for the 67th year, as it tracks Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve flight.
American and Canadian NORAD personnel from the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) in Rome, New York, are ready to support this effort.
"EADS is proud to support NORAD's Santa-tracking operations," said Col. Paul M. Bishop, EADS commander. "Our highly trained Airmen, who are on duty every night of the year, always look forward to tracking our special aviator on Christmas Eve."
A binational Canadian and American command, NORAD's top priority is the defense of North America.
NORAD employs a network of space-based, aerial and ground-based sensors, air-to-air refueling tankers and fighter aircraft on alert, controlled by a sophisticated command and control network to detect, deter and defend against aerial threats that originate outside or within North American airspace.
EADS is located at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, New York, and is part of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region-1st Air Force (CONR-1AF), which is located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
Responsible for the air defense of the eastern U.S., EADS is composed of the New York Air National Guard's 224th Air Defense Group, a Canadian Armed Forces detachment, U.S. Army and Navy liaison officers, federal civilians and contractors. EADS also has two detachments in the National Capital Region.
The “NORAD Tracks Santa” website, www.noradsanta.org, launched Dec. 1 and features Santa's North Pole Village, a holiday countdown, games, a movie theater, holiday music, webstore and more.
The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.
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 launch 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 Dec. 24, website visitors can see updates as Santa makes preparations for his flight. Then, at 6 a.m. EST, children and parents can call to inquire about Santa by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723), where they will either speak to a live phone operator or hear a recorded update.
Tracking Santa has been a tradition since 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly – only the contact number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD.
Shoup was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child 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. Each year since NORAD has reported Santa's location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families around the world.