For the 65th year, NORAD will track Santa for your kiddos this Christmas Eve

By: Woodlands Online | Published 12/21/2023


On Christmas Eve of 1955, as the Cold War was in full frigidity and tensions were high despite the holiday season, the personnel stationed at the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) in Colorado Springs, Colorado were hoping for a night of heavenly peace.

The ringing of the top secret ‘hotline’ shattered those hopes as the Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, answered, fearing the worst. Instead of an incoming missile alert or orders to launch the US’ own arsenal, Shoup heard a small child asking for Santa. Confusion was spirited but brief until staffers realized that a Sears newspaper advertisement exhorting children to call Santa on a special number had accidentally listed the number wrong.

One call turned into dozens as Shoup accepted the humor of the ridiculous situation and instructed his staff to check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole.

This tradition continued when CONAD became the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in 1958 and eventually moved to the safety of Cheyenne Mountain (which viewers of the film WarGames would recognize). Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location each Christmas Eve to millions of children and families across the globe.

Today, NORAD boasts the latest in cutting-edge technology to track Santa using satellite systems, high-powered radar, and jet fighters. For the 30th year running, NORAD receives calls from around the world on December 24 asking for Santa's location, and multiple personnel members are on hand to give live updates. Children, families, and fans also keep track of Santa's location on the ‘NORAD Tracks Santa’ website and the military installation’s social media platforms.

Between now and 5:00 o’clock in the morning – The Woodlands time – on Christmas Eve, the official website,, has trivia, FAQs, music, and games available for visitors of all ages. But the second ‘zero hour’ hits, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center is fully operational. You can call 877 HI-NORAD (877 446-6723) to talk directly to a NORAD staff member who will be able to tell you Santa’s exact location. Operators are available until midnight, when they have to themselves head home to fall asleep before the jolly old elf visits their own homes.


(Photo Credit: NORAD Tracks Santa)

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