What Caused The U.S. Military To Start Tracking Santa Claus?
Answer: A Sears Advertisement
NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) is a joint operation between the US and Canadian governments designed to monitor and protect the sovereign airspace of the two nations. The precursor of NORAD was CONAD (the Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command Center)–both located in the U.S. military’s hardened Cheyenne Mountain base.
On December 24, 1955 a local Sears store ran an ad in a Colorado Springs newspaper with a telephone hotline that purported to be a direct line to Santa Claus. The only problem was a huge typo in the Sears ad routed the phone calls not to the Sears staff but to the CONAD switchboard. Colonel Shoup, the commanding office on duty that evening, instructed his staff to answer the calls from hopeful children and give them the location and status of Santa Clause as he completed his wild around-the-world toy delivery run.
When CONAD converted to NORAD the tradition was passed on. Every year since then NORAD has faithfully answered phone calls and emails from all over the world updating curious children on the location and status of Santa Clause. What started off as a handful of soldiers answering the calls of Colorado Springs children has grown to include a large crew of volunteers that handle roughly 12,000 emails and 70,000 phone calls from children the world over. The operation even has a website with a virtual radar system and social media presence. If it’s Christmas Eve and you absolutely need to know where the Fat Man is, you can count on NORAD to assure you he’s out, about, and delivering toys to all the good girls and boys.