December 24, 2023

Hey kids! Where is Santa right now? NORAD knows

Therese Apel

NORAD tracks Santa each year, following a route around the world through Christmas

Remember when you were a child and you’d push bedtime on Christmas Eve until Mom and Dad would force you to run to your room by telling you Santa was down the street?

Most years I was in my room, glued to my window, hoping for a glimpse of Rudolph’s shiny red nose. But I also remember the year my sister and I (probably ages 7 and 4 at the time) and our two cousins (probably ages 8 and 10) jumped on the trundle bed at their house in Ohio until well past present-delivery time, singing “Santa Claus is in Hawaii!” over and over, taunting our parents for trying to make us go to sleep. Obviously Santa was mightily displeased at that.

Well parents of today, you’re going to have to come clean. In the digital age, your kids have the receipts.

Colonel Harry Shoup, NORAD’s First Santa Tracker

You might know what NORAD is, but if you don’t, it’s the North American Aerospace Defense Command. NORAD is a bi-national organization comprised of the United States and Canada which defends the homeland through aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America. Basically they monitor man-made objects in space, and according to their website, they detect, validate,and warn of attacks against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support arrangements with other commands.

According to NORAD, it started in 1955 when a young child misdialed the unlisted phone number of what is now the NORAD Operations Center aftger reading a newspaper ad with a number for kids to call Santa Claus. Colonel Harry Shoup was the Director of Operations at the time, and upon answering the phone, he told his staff to check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole.

“Thus a tradition was born,” NORAD states. “Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families across the globe.”

So during Christmas, besides protecting the homeland, what better mission than to monitor whether or not Santa Claus is in Hawaii?

NORAD explains on their website dedicated to tracking Santa that they use radar, satellites, and jet fighters to track the big man’s mission across the globe.

“NORAD makes a point of checking the radar closely for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole every holiday season. The moment our radar tells us that Santa has lifted off, we begin to use the same satellites that we use in providing air warning of possible missile launches aimed at North America.”

How do they know what is Santa Claus and what’s not, you might ask?

“Rudolph’s nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch. The satellites detect Rudolph’s bright red nose with no problem,” the website states.

Of course, NORAD says it’s a thrill for those fighter pilots to meet their childhood hero, too.

“American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15s, F16s or F-22s get the thrill of flying with Santa and the famous Reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph,” the website explains. “Even though Santa flies faster than any jet fighter (Santa actually slows down for us to escort him), all of these systems together provide NORAD with a very good continuous picture of his whereabouts.”

If you’re waiting on Kris Kringle to come down the chimney and you’re trying to schedule bedtime appropriately, NORAD says they can’t tell you exactly when he’ll be there, but they can offer some guidance.

“We do, however, know from history that it appears he arrives only when children are asleep! In most countries, it seems Santa arrives between 9:00 p.m. and midnight on December 24th. If children are still awake when Santa arrives, he moves on to other houses. He returns later, but only when the children are asleep!”

So kids, you heard it here. According to the government guys who watch the skies, you should probably be all nestled warm in your beds and asleep by 9 p.m. tonight if you can. Until then, some ways you can follow Santa with NORAD are using their website, their Twitter account, and their Facebook page.

(And if you’re not a believer, call 1-877-HI-NORAD (446-6723). We did it and we spoke with Santa’s Helper Mark, who said Santa was in Australia as of 7:40 a.m. Central Time.)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night, from all of us at Darkhorse Press.

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