by Pam Zubeck
How better to remind the world of the seasonal message of "peace on earth" than to sponsor a Santa tracker using one of our most crucial national defense agencies, right?
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, a bi-national command with Canada, to protect North American airspace from intruders, once again is putting forth the warm fuzzy persona to provide recon of Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve flight.
As reported year after year, the tradition began in 1955 when a Gazette Telegraph ad contained a wrong phone number for kids to call Santa. The number turned out to be that of the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, now NORAD, then based at Ent Air Force Base where the Olympic Training Center now sits. A kindly NORAD official played along, and the rest is history.
NORAD now is headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, with a warm standby unit inside Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.
So without further ado, here's this year's news release:
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - The North American Aerospace Defense Command is prepared to track Santa's yuletide journey! The NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, is going live today at 7 p.m. EST. It features a holiday countdown, games and daily activities, video messages from students around the world, and more. The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.
Official NORAD Tracks Santa apps are also available in the Windows Store, Apple Store, and Google Play, so parents and children can countdown the days until Santa's launch on their smart phones and tablets! Tracking opportunities are also offered on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Santa followers just need to type @noradsanta into each search engine to get started.
Starting at 12 a.m. MST on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make the preparations for his flight. Then, at 4:00 a.m. MST (6:00 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will also stream videos as Santa makes his way over various locations.
NORAD Tracks Santa is truly a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere. This is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors. New to this year's program are Bing, HP, iLink-Systems, Kids.gov, Microsoft’s Windows Azure, BeMerry! Santa, and SiriusXM. Returning collaborators include the 21st Space Wing, Acuity Scheduling, Air Canada, American Forces Network, Analytical Graphics Inc., Avaya, Citadel Mall, Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council, CradlePoint, Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), Federal Aviation Administration, First Choice Awards & Gifts, Globelink Foreign Language Center, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Meshbox, National Tree Lighting Ceremony, Naturally Santa’s Inc., Newseum, OnStar, PCI Broadband, Pentagon Channel, RadiantBlue, Space Foundation, TurboSquid, twtelecom, UGroup Media, Verizon, and VisionBox. Santa’s Countdown Calendar and the Santa Cam videos will feature music by military bands, including the Naden Band of the Maritime Forces Pacific, Air Force Academy Band, Air Force Band of Liberty, Air Force Band of the Golden West, Air Force Band of the West, Air Force Band, Air Force Heartland of America Band, U.S. Army Ground Forces Band, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Band, Air Force Band of Mid-America, and the West Point Band. Santa trackers can also purchase official NORAD Tracks Santa licensed goods by visiting the “Official Licensed Products” link on the site.