“We’re NORAD. We don’t lose track of Santa.”

In 1955 a newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colorado printed an ad from Sears Roebuck in which a number was given so that children could call and talk to Father Christmas.

Well, people are human after all, and Murphy does kind of hate us — personally — so it should come as no surprise that the newspaper kind of flubbed a bit on that number.

The first child to call the Jolly Old Elf wound up calling the hot-line at Continental Air Defence Command — the predecessor to what is now North American Aerospace Defence Command, better known to most as NORAD.

Colonel Harry W. Shoup — Director of Ops at CONAD — took the call, and after figuring out just what the heck was going on, told the child that he was, indeed, St. Nicholas and reassured the bairn that he was on-schedule.

Well, since the phone number in the advert was bolloxed, that was only the first of many, many, calls from small children, anxious to talk to Kriss Kringle.

Colonel Shoup, bless his heart, arranged for his staff to give location updates on those eight tiny reindeer to each child who called.

And so, a tradition was born.

Staff at the original CONAD — and later at NORAD — enthusiastically embraced “Santa Tracking” and each year thereafter volunteers manned phone banks to keep children all over the world updated on the journey of Santa Claus on Christmas night.

Last year, the Santa Operations Centre answered over 90 thousand phone calls, ten thousand e-mails and their website received over 10 million visitors.


Merry Christmas, everyone.


A Classic LawDog File
A Soldiers Night Before Christmas

10 thoughts on ““We’re NORAD. We don’t lose track of Santa.””

  1. Y’know, sometimes the right person is just in the right place at the right time… hats off to Col. Shoup!

  2. And well spent, for once.

    Something that happens more often than not, with the military… and much more often than with most other aspects of gummint.

  3. “Your tax dollars hard at work…”

    And considering what out tax money usually gets wasted on I see this as well spent. Good work.

  4. I keep track of Santa every year through their website, and I think the effort that goes into it is just beautiful. The little bit about them stopping at Reindeer Lake so Donner and Blitzen can see their family that lives there is always touching to me, and I love the explanation for how they are able to track Santa (even before the Santa Cams were added)… Rudolph’s nose gives off a heat signature similar to a missle launch. Last night, my two year old nephew sat in my lap to watch the videos with me, and as soon as he realized what he was watching, an excited and awed, “Yeah!” came from him. And I won “Cool Aunt Points” for showing it to him.

    Merry Christmas, LawDog!

  5. Money thoroughly well spent. I particularly approve of the acquisition of Toronto (and thus, the CN Tower) for the United States. 54-40 or fight!!

  6. I wish I’d have known about this before Christmas! There’s always next year.

    That has got to be one of the greatest acts of cool and American I’ve heard. Good on ya, Col. Shoup.


  7. Now, you see, THIS is the kind of thing folks should point out to those who say the military is heartless. Hadn’t heard the story of how it began before, thanks, LawDog. Knowing only helps me file this away into a new category of Awesome.

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