So you know who believes in Santa? NORAD. While everyone else today gets ready to shut down for the holiday weekend, the fat guy in red is just started on his yearly mission to deliver toys to all the nice little Christmas-celebrating boys and girls — and the North American Aerospace Defense Command is putting their experience in tracking foreign objects in the sky to use.
At NORADsanta.org, those with a vested interest in Santa’s whereabouts can track him via an embedded Google Earth map, as well as watch video of his sleigh and reindeer as they travel the globe. As of writing, Santa has just dropped by the International Space Station, and next will be moving onto northern Africa and Europe. The NORAD Santa Twitter account is also updating rapidly with up-to-the-minute geographic details.
NORADsanta.org also provides information about both Santa (Is he real? NORAD’s answer: “He’s real in the hearts and minds of children everywhere”) and the story of how the tradition of tracking Santa got started, which is actually pretty adorable:
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement for children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
Once you put out of your mind the fact that this bit of holiday cheer comes courtesy of a system created originally to keep watch for Russian nukes, it’s easy to indulge your inner child and get excited as Santa slowly but surely makes his way to the USA, spreading peace on Earth and goodwill toward men — even those who aren’t on Twitter.