9911 Seminole Blvd. Seminole, FL 33772       Ph. 727-397-5563   View TBN's FREE e-Edition today!  
Click here to learn more
Front Page Facebook Twitter
NORAD prepares to track Santa
Article published on
  Print E-Mail
PINELLAS COUNTY - The day-to-day mission of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, is to "deter, detect and defend." However, for the past 50 years, it has undertaken an additional task - keeping an eye on Santa Claus.

According to information on, NORAD's mission of tracking Santa came about when an advertisement for a store in Colorado Springs included a wrong phone number for Santa's hotline.

The phone number in the ad connected children calling Santa to the CONRAD Commander-in-Chief's operations hotline.

According to the Web site, "The director of operations, Col. Harry Shoup, received the first 'Santa' call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing what had happened, Col. Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa's position. Thus, the tradition was born."

In 1958, Canada and the United States formed a partnership to protect the airspace of Alaska, Canada and the contiguous 48 United States. And, the partnership agreed to continue the annual mission of tracking Santa's journey.

NORAD takes the mission seriously, as is explained on its Santa tracking Web site. Four high-tech systems are used to track Santa and his reindeers, including radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighters. Volunteers from Canada and the United States answer the phones on Christmas Eve, taking calls from children wanting to know when Santa will be coming to their house.

On Christmas Eve, NORAD checks its radar all through the night watching for any sign that Santa has left the North Pole. As soon as radar shows that Santa's sleigh has taken off, satellites with infrared sensors are put into use. NORAD has discovered that Rudolph's nose gives off an infrared signature, making it easy to track the jolly ole elf.

In 1998, NORAD added a third system to its Santa tracking tools - the Santa Cam. According to its Web site, NORAD only uses the "ultra-cool high-tech high-speed digital cameras" once a year, on Christmas Eve.

"We turn the cameras on about one hour before Santa enters a country then switch them off after we capture images of him and the reindeer," the Web site explains.

NORAD also sends its jet fighters out on Christmas Eve, taking off from Newfoundland; the pilots intercept and welcome Santa to North America. Canadian pilots take the first shift, flying out from locations throughout that northernmost country, to escort Santa as he makes his rounds. When Santa crosses the border, United States pilots take over the escort duty.

NORAD created its Santa tracking Web site in 1998, and it has grown in popularity each year. Last year, the site received millions of visits, and more are expected in 2004.

Visitors to the Web site will find information on preparing to view the Santa Cam, newly declassified pictures of Santa, stories about Santa, Christmas music, including songs by honorary Santa Tracker Ringo Starr and the USAF Academy Band, the USAF Band of Mid-America and the Royal Canadian Artillery Band, Christmas wallpaper and more, including a new feature, tracking the days left until Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, NORAD will post a map of the world showing many of the places Santa visits. The map will be updated throughout the evening. When a location is clicked, a Santa Cam will come up allowing visitors to see a part of Santa's journey.

NORAD also works as a go-between, sending messages from children to Santa Clause. Questions can be sent to

Questions about Santa tracking can be e-mailed to At 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 24, the Santa tracker hotline will open, and children can call toll free (877) Hi-NORAD to find out when to expect Santa in their neighborhood.
Article published on
Copyright © Tampa Bay Newspapers: All rights reserved.
Printable Version E-mail article
Community Focus Online
Featured Print Advertisers
Abbey Carpet & Floor of Largo
13120 66th St. N.
(727) 524-1445

Web site        View Ad
Custom Couture of Tarpon Springs
208 East Tarpon Ave., Tarpon Springs
(727) 238-7194

Web site        View Ad
NuSmile Dental
13611 Park Blvd., Suite G
(727) 475-7866

Web site        View Ad
Omega Gamma Delta Fraternity
Looking for Alumni
Contact Mark Quering
Beta Chi 1972

Web site        View Ad
Tarpon Springs Recreation Division
Zombie Run, 10/17
Coastal Cleanup, 10/7
Trunk or Treat, 10/31

Web site        View Ad
Senior Health Care Solutions

(866) 633-4427

Web site        View Ad
Bell Hearing Instruments, Inc.
801 West Bay Dr., Suite 405, Largo (727) 585-2675
Factory Location
700 Stevens Ave., Oldsmar (813) 814-2355

Web site        View Ad
US Ammo Depot
118 E. Tarpon Ave, Suite 208, Tarpon Springs
(727) 940-8636

Web site        View Ad
Law Office of Stephen C. Whalen, P.A.
1968 Bayshore Blvd., Dunedin
(727) 726-0439
(727) 409-7347(Cell)

Web site        View Ad
Flooring America
9012 Seminole Blvd., Seminole
(727) 397-5509
100 Patricia Ave., Dunedin
(727) 733-1356

Web site        View Ad
Five Fish Boutique
735 Dodecanese Blvd, Suite 1, Tarpon Springs
(727) 485-8660

Web site        View Ad
Florida Center for Back & Neck Pain
Dr. Greg Hollstrom
11444 Seminole Blvd.
(727) 393-6100

Web site        View Ad
Oakhurst & East Bay Medical
13020 Park Blvd., Seminole
(727) 393-3404
3800 East Bay Dr., Largo
(727) 539-0505

Web site        View Ad
Tarpon Springs Merchants Association

Oct. 15 - 18

Web site        View Ad
Tampa Bay Newspapers
Online Advertising
For information, e-mail
Online Services Directory
Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
Submit News