What Is the NORAD Tracks Santa Program?

The Tracks Santa program is an annual entertainment event hosted by the North American Aerospace Defense Command that tracks the location of Santa Claus as he delivers Christmas gifts all over the world. On Christmas Eve the organization supplies program participants with fictitious but realistic radar locations of Santa's journey.

The 50-year-old program began when major retailer Sears posted an ad with a phone number that children could call to connect with Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Because of a misprint, callers were directed to what is now known as the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The commander, Col. Harry Shoup, instructed his staff to maintain the facade, and the tradition was born. Using radar technology, the organization projects the likely path Santa Claus would take, calculating time zone and other factors into the projections.

Since its inception, the Santa Tracks program has been cited by media sources as the official tracker of Santa Claus's activities on Christmas Eve. As of 2015, information from the Tracks Santa program is available through several mediums, including social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

NORAD uses hundreds of volunteers each year to field the thousands of calls, emails and other correspondence it receives each December. The program currently operates on corporate sponsorship, and the program kicks off on Dec.1.