The annual tradition of tracking Santa's journey from the North Pole by the Continental Air Defense Command, known today as NORAD, began on Dec. 24, 1955. The information is important so good girls and boys can be in bed by the time Santa arrives. Other organizations that track the flight include Airservices Australia Tracks Santa Project, the Santa Update Project, the MSNBC and Bing Maps Platform Tracks Santa Project, the Weather Channel and local news broadcasts.
In 1955, a Sears Roebuck newspaper advertisement in Colorado Springs, Colorado supplied children a phone number to call so they could speak with Santa on Christmas Eve. Due to a misprint, the phone number was actually that of the Continental Air Defense Command, or CONAD. Colonel Harry Shoup, the director of operations at CONAD, answered the phone and decided to play along. He told the children who called that radar indicated Santa was heading south from the North Pole.
The tradition continued after Canada and the United States created the North American Air Defense Command, or NORAD, in 1958. More than 1,500 military and civilian volunteers answer the phones at NORAD on Christmas Eve and handle children's questions. Children can also track Santa's flight on NORAD's website at NoradSanta.org. In 2014, NORAD received more than 134,000 calls, over 6,500 emails and 21 million unique visitors to its website from people wanting to track Santa.