This year, 40 Santa-trackers who identify themselves as “Navy” will help children all over the world know when Santa is coming, so they can get to sleep before he arrives, according to Marisa Novobilski, a public affairs officer with the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Counting the family members who often help with the tracking and Navy retirees, Novobilski estimated that at least 100 Navy-affiliated volunteers will help answer calls and emails in the NORAD Tracks Santa headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Christmas Eve.
Military members began tracking Santa in 1955 when an ad for Sears Roebuck & Co. misprinted the number children could dial to call Santa. The wrong number reached Continental Air Defense Command, where personnel checked their radar and updated children on Santa’s location. Three years later in 1958, Canada and the U.S. merged together to create NORAD, which replaced CONAD and has been tracking Santa once-a-year ever since.
For Christmas 2012, Santa has already been briefed on the mission by Army Gen. Chuck Jacoby, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, and Lt. Gen. Alain Parent, deputy commander of NORAD from the Royal Canadian Air Force. You can see their video teleconference below.
In addition to seeing Santa’s current location on the map, children can also check out videos of Santa flying around some of the world’s iconic landmarks, like the Opera House in Sydney or the pyramids in Egypt, caught on film by the high-tech Santa Cams.
On the FAQ page, NORAD addresses questions like is there really a Santa? And how does he travel around the whole world in just one night?
If you still have questions, you can contact a NORAD rep to get an answer. I wrote in back on Christmas Eve 2009 that I was worried Santa wouldn’t make it to all the troops stationed away from their families in the Middle East.
Less than two hours later, I received the following reply: “That is mighty kind of you to say! Believe me, Santa does visit the troops and everyone else in the Middle East who believes in him. Just to let you know, Santa is actually on his way to Baghdad, Iraq to deliver presents to them now!”
Will you be tracking Santa this year?