You may well have seen the NORAD ”Track Santa’ website – in case you haven’t, this is where the North American Aerospace Defense Command uses its forty seven radar dishes across North America to follow Santa Claus’ progress on Christmas Night.
I read a wonderful article today by Dave Demerjian (“How NORAD Tracks Santa” – click here) which tells the story of how the NORAD service came into being.
Back in 1955, when NORAD was known as the Continental Air Defense Command (CONRAD), the Sears department store chain published a newspaper advert inviting people to call Santa – yet mistakenly put in CONRAD’s phone number rather than the store. Soon the calls were coming in to check on Santa’s progress, and the commanding officer, Colonel Harry Shoup was generous enough to offer to “check the radar”.
And so, fifty years ago the Track Santa service was born, translated into seven languages, and supplemented a decade ago with a web service. Updates are issues to mobiles phones and Blackberries as well as online or by landline. Last year alone, almost ninety five thousand phone calls and ten and a half thousand emails enquired as to the sleigh’s progress.