Santa at NORAD

Santa Claus reviews his flight plan for his Dec. 25 trek across the globe in the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command Current Operations Center in 2013. He'll be charting his course again this year.

When the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) started tracking Santa in 1955, "The Mickey Mouse Club" was in its first year on television, Jonas Salk's polio vaccine was declared safe and effective, "Autumn Leaves" was climbing the charts and Ford's Thunderbird made its debut.

In Colorado Springs, the local newspaper misprinted a phone number for Santa that actually rang to NORAD, then located at the Olympic Training Center site. A NORAD official who picked up the call played along, and the long tradition was born.

It makes sense that NORAD, which monitors and defends North American airspace 24/7/365, would surveil the additional space craft piloted by Santa Claus, which NORAD says in a release it's "proud to continue each year."

Tracking, which can be viewed here, launches today, Dec. 1, and features Santa’s North Pole Village, a holiday countdown, games, movie theater, holiday music, webstore, and more, the release said.

The website is available in eight languages — English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese — because kids worldwide want to keep track of their favorite jolly old elf.

You can also track NORAD's holiday mission through the Santa app found in the Apple App and Google Play stores. Santa's journey also will be documented through social media on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, as well as on partner platforms: Bing, Amazon Alexa and OnStar.

Starting at 2 a.m. on Dec. 24, website visitors can see updates as Santa makes preparations for his flight. At 4 a.m., trackers worldwide can call to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) where they will either speak with a live phone operator or hear a recorded update.

"NORAD Tracks Santa is truly a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere," the release said. "This is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors."

Senior Reporter

Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.