How a mistake led to NORAD tracking Santa's sleigh

Every year, children rely on NORAD to tell them where in the world Santa is. Here's the story of how this tracking tradition was born.

Every year kids rely on NORAD to track Santa’s sleigh as it makes its way around the world

But how did this tradition begin?

With a mistake

In December 1955, NORAD’s predecessor in Colorado received an unusual phone call

It was from a child looking to speak to Santa

Calls continued coming in throughout the night from eager children hoping to speak to old Saint Nick

As it turns out, a department store had placed an ad in the local paper to advertise a sale on toys

But they had misprinted the phone number and a tradition was born

NORAD says defense satellites can pick up the heat signature from Rudolph’s nose

Ground-based radar sites relay updates to fighter jets, that escort Santa throughout North America

while the Navy and Coast Guard ensure the seas are safe beneath Santa’s flight path

On December 24th, volunteers will again gather in Colorado Springs to field calls and emails as Saint Nick travels the globe

Follow along at