Historian Michael Beschloss in his special piece for the New York Times – How Santa Claus Ended Up on Norad’s Radar – has a reminder of sixty faithful years of Norad tracking Santa. Like the famous letter from Virginia O’Hanlon in 1897 asking for confirmation of the existence of Santa in the New York Sun, the holiday tradition of following Santa’s route resulted from a youngster’s request – this time in 1955 from a little boy with a phone call.
The famous red telephone with the sinister ring threatening war, actually did ring one night. The Russians attacking? No, a child asking to speak to Santa. A misprint in a newspaper ad had led the caller to the command post in Colorado. As a result, the chief of operations, Colonel Shoup, a father of three small children, managed the mistake into a public relations coup, and the tracking of Santa’s route was initiated.
Now an annual tradition, tracking Santa in his sleigh makes the news every Christmas Eve, and you can follow him yourself at Norad Tracking Santa