Inside Norad Tracks down Santa as US soldiers take 150,000 calls from children in an annual tradition sparked by sheer coincidence
EVERY year on Christmas Eve, thousands of children around the world call to inquire about Santa’s journey in anticipation of the holiday.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command – known as Norad – is tracking our beloved Saint Nick as he travels the globe “faster than dawn”.
Standing a whopping 75 candy canes long, 80 lollipops wide and weighing 75,000 gummy candies, Norad works hard to keep her eyes on the goal.
Norad works to protect the airspace of Canada and the United States, a mission that most children don’t understand.
However, since 1955 (back when the agency was known as Continental Air Defense Command) they have followed Santa’s journey around the world.
The holiday tradition began when a child accidentally called Conad’s operational call center in Colorado Springs after intending to call a department store.
Colonel Harry Shoup, the operations chief at the time, was surprised when the child asked where Santa was.
Shoup quickly ordered his crew to check the radars for his sled, and the exercise has since become an annual procedure.
An average of 1,500 people, most of them current and former service members, volunteer to answer nearly 150,000 calls asking where Santa is.
Social media updates are provided on Norad’s website along with a detailed tracker.
“Last year was my first year with Norad Tracks Santa and the best part was being able to share it with my niece and nephew who were 8 and 6 at the time,” Captain Alexandra Hejduk told Military.com.
“The amount of credibility I got for telling them I work closely with Santa was incredible.”
The Colorado Springs call center is the centerpiece of the celebrations, as volunteers arrive at 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve and work two-hour shifts.
Some members even volunteer for multiple shifts as they are provided with coffee, donated treats and loud Christmas music, Military.com reported.
“We have a lot of young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen who come in and volunteer before they go home for Christmas, or they’re here for Christmas and can’t go home,” said retired Gen. Victor E Renaut jr.
Renaurt served as commander of the United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command from 2007 to 2010 and says tradition is an important morale booster.
“They come out of this experience with this huge smile on their face that they made a difference and it touched them just as much as it did the little kids they spoke to around the world.
Norad’s festive mission will be shared on TV channels that will provide the latest information on Santa’s whereabouts.
Parents can even download an app from their devices to show their kids the route of the sled.
“We’re focusing on the social media that our audience is using, so more like Facebook and Instagram, so the focus is really on that,” Hejduk said, adding that Norad won’t be prioritizing Twitter this year.
“The website is by far the most important because that’s where the tracker is.
“It’s not something we consider just because it’s a different audience.”
Many service members have found joy and recognition from loved ones and strangers because of their work that follows Santa and carries with it the tradition of Col Shoup.
“You can take a deep breath and step back and realize there’s still a lot of good in the world,” Renuart said.
“Through your military service, you can bring an element of humanity, courtesy and compassion to it in a way that is very different from what you do when you put on your uniform and go in on a normal duty day.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6975810/norad-santa-tracker-christmas-eve-tradition/ Inside Norad Tracks down Santa as US soldiers take 150,000 calls from children in an annual tradition sparked by sheer coincidence