The History of NORAD Santa: The Tradition Has Evolved with Google and expanded Social Media presence

Over the years one of our favorite topics of discussion in December here at GISuser has been NORAD Santa… the fine efforts of the NORAD team implemented each year to track and secure Santa Claus during his long journey.

We’ve covered off all the technology and fun features provided by the team, helping to clarify to the population how and where to access the tools made available to us every Christmas Eve. And so, I was particularly interested in a past article that appeared in a recent edition of "Colorado Country Life", a publication of the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association. The article shared some historical facts about tracking Santa and how NORAD Santa has become a Global phenomenon and tradition for many families. The following are a few of the interesting facts that I picked up on in the article:

  • It was back in 1955 out of the Continental Air Defence Command (CONAD) when Colonel Harry Shoup (The "Santa Colonel") began communicating with Santa and radar sites in order to track Santa.
  • A special phone line started receiving calls from children all over the country when Sears Roebuck accidentally made a mis-print in an ad about how to call Santa, routing the calls to Col. Shoup… the rest is history!
  • Rather than ignoring the barrage of calls on Christmas eve, Colonel Shoup answered all the calls that came to his line and pretended he was Santa in order to not dissapoint any of the callers… a tradition was then born.
  • During November and December 2006, the NORAD Santa website logged more than a billion hits and generated over a half a million phone calls and over 212,500 emails.

Sadly, Colonel Shoup passed away on March 14, 2009 in Colorado Springs, however, there’s no doubt that NORAD and the Shoup family is expecting and will greatly appreciate the emails, phone calls, and Internet traffic to continue to increase every year as the NORAD team continues with the tradition.On a personal note, I’d like to thank Col. Shoup, his family, and NORAD for starting such a wonderful service and for creating an annual tradition in our household… I can’t wait until Christmas eve!  Be sure to Bookmark

Bookmark this resource and be sure to check in often on Christmas eve with everyone in your household that Believes! Note: the system uses data captured via radar, satellites, Santa cams, and fighter jets!

Join NORAD at the official NORAD Tracks Santa website,, on December 24th to track this year’s journey.

Additional Social Media Santa Resources:

NORAD Santa Articles on GISuser


Editor (18230 Posts)

Glenn is a geographer and a GIS professional with over 20 years experience in the industry. He's the co-founder of GISuser and several other technology web publications.

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