Ski teacher Alberto Ronchi makes a jump dressed as Santa Claus in Madonna di Campiglio in northern Italy. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Children eager to track Santa Claus on his annual yuletide
journey to homes across the world can download a new mobile
app from the North American Aerospace Defense Command
The new app for Windows 8, called NORAD Tracks Santa, is part
of a 57-year-long holiday tradition at NORAD of tracking
Santa. It will allow children to keep up with him on their
mobile devices and joins similar apps for iOS, Android and
"Every December 24th since 1955 we have been telling children
exactly where Santa is so that children all over the world
can make sure that they're in bed on time so that Santa will
deliver their presents," explained Stacey Knott, a deputy
chief at NORAD, U.S.-Canadian military organization based in
In addition to tracking Santa's location on Christmas Eve,
the app also shows cameos from his route across major
landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China.
During the countdown to the big night, children can also use
the apps to play games and watch videos.
NORAD's involvement dates back to a 1955 advertisement in a
local Sears, Roebuck & Co department store asking
children to call Santa directly. But the phone number in the
ad contained a typo.
Instead of reaching Santa's private phone, the children
gained direct access to the Continental Air Defense Command,
"Any call that came though on this line was typically the
chairman, or the secretary of defense, or even the
president," Knott said.
Colonel Harry Shoup was working that Christmas Eve when the
first child called.
"This little tiny girl's voice said, 'Is this Santa?'" Knott
explained. "[Colonel Shoup] looked around because he thought
someone was playing a joke on him, but then he talked to the
girl's mom and realized what had happened."
Shoup instructed his staff to check the radar for signs of
Santa and relayed the information to the children, and the
tradition was born.
In addition to the free app which is available worldwide,
children can visit www.noradsanta.org, call the hotline
at 1-877-HI-NORAD, or email email@example.com
on Christmas Eve to get information on Santa's location. The
website is available in eight languages, including English
Last year, NORAD fielded over 102,000 phone calls and 7,700
Knott said NORAD relies heavily on partners and volunteers to
run the project.
"We have 1,200 volunteers who will come in and will tell
people where Santa is located," she added.
So, how does Santa deliver all those gifts in one night?
"Number one, Santa flies faster than starlight," said Knott.
"But we're not completely sure how he does it. It's a little
bit of magic."