The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a United States and Canada bi-national organization whose mission is to provide surveillance for aerospace and maritime warning and control for North America. But they have also been providing another service for more than 50 years now and that mission is to track Santa’s yearly excursion from the North Pole. No, this is not an urban legend and you can check out their elaborate website which shows precisely how they accomplish this monumental task. It also provides games, movies, and stories of Christmas traditions around the world. See for yourself HERE
If your inner Scrooge needs some appeasing, this is funded almost entirely by volunteers and donations with another purpose in mind called Operation Goodwill:
“Operation Good Will is NORAD Tracks Santa’s way to teach our fans how they can connect and give back to those men, women, and children who selflessly serve and support our nation to ensure the future of our country’s freedom."
But the most interesting of all is how this operation got started in the first place– for further details about this TRUE story see SNOPES
NORAD'S Secret Santa Files gives the general lowdown on how it all began:
“The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. 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.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa's whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website.
Finally, media from all over the world rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide updates on Santa's journey.
In Memory of Retired Colonel Harry Shoup, NORAD's First Santa Tracker
September 29, 1917 - March 14, 2009"