Published On: Wed, Dec 18th, 2013

Santa tracking much easier with online applications

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Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

When I was a little girl, my brother and I would join our Papaw Stewart on Christmas Eve in listening to the NORAD Santa tracker on the radio. Most of the time, Papaw was more excited than we were about the updates on Santa’s progress around the world.

For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), has tracked Santa’s flight on Christmas Eve.

The tradition began in 1955 with a simple mistake. A Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertised a phone number where children could contact Santa. The advertisement had the wrong phone number and children were contacting the Commander-in-Chief’s operations hotline at CONAD.

To keep the spirit of Christmas alive, Colonel Harry Shoup had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa and his sleigh. As children called the number, Shoup and his crew kept them up-to-date, leading to the tracking tradition.

Now that technology has progressed, NORAD has added a website to track Santa throughout the month of December.

At www.noradsanta.org, a clock counts down until it is time for Santa to leave the North Pole for his late night journey.

The site also includes an interactive Santa’s Village where a new game is unlocked each day. Play word games, memory games and even help Santa play basketball in The Arcade. The Village also has a movie theater, a music center and a library which includes information on Santa’s sleigh.

Joining in tracking Santa, Google has a site, www.google.com/santatracker similar to NORAD’s.

Along with a countdown clock, there are activities unlocked each day in Santa’s Village. Watch the precocious elves enjoy their last few days off before the big night. Games include helping Santa collect gifts in his sleigh, using a slingshot to get presents into duck shaped boats and collecting candy.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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