NORAD Santa tracker 2016 has officially gone live. From now until the end of December, children will be able to visit the official NORAD Santa Tracker website and play games, learn fun facts about the Christmas and the holiday season, and most importantly, be able to track Santa’s every move live in real time as he makes his annual trip around the world.
It is estimated that this Christmas Eve millions of people across the United States and all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through NORAD’s U.S. military radar. So, how did all of this happen to come together?
Well, the story of how NORAD Santa tracker began is just as good, if not better, than the website itself! It is proof that mistakes in life can turn out to be a good thing in the long run.
Pilot Online reports that NORAD Santa Tracker began back in 1955 with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper advertisement. Hard to believe that something so small could turn into something so big, but it wasn’t just the misprint that helped Santa Tracker to become the huge success it is today. That credit goes directly to a man named Harry Shoup.
The advertisement at the time was for Sears and Roebuck and simply read the following:
“Call me on my private phone and I will talk to you personally anytime day or night, or come to visit me at Sears Toyland — Santa Claus”
The only problem was that the phone number in the ad didn’t go to Santa at Sears, it happened to be the number to the NORAD Continental Air Defense Command Center.
That was 61 years ago when this misprint happened, yet the publisher of that ad made the best mistake of his or her life.
On Christmas Eve 1955, Colonel Harry Shoup began receiving an unusual amount of phone calls at the Command Center — and they were all from kids asking to speak with Santa Claus. Shoup, who worked in the operations department for the Air Defense Command Center at the time, had to think someone was playing a joke on him at first, however, when the calls didn’t stop coming he had a feeling this was no joke, so Shoup came up with an idea.
Instead of telling the kids that they dialed the wrong number, Shoup said that he wasn’t Santa Claus but he could track him on radar and possibly pass on a message or two to the big guy. When other calls came in, Colonel Shoup and his team would give the children on the other line details of Santa’s location and how his reindeer were doing such a great job — even in the bad weather.
The children were thrilled, and Colonel Shoup did a great service by keeping the spirit of jolly old St. Nick alive.
Shoup could easily have not answered the children’s requests, or even worse chose to tell them that they had the wrong number and Santa isn’t there. Instead, this great man took time from a highly stressful job to (unknowingly) start what would become a tradition that grows stronger by the year.
Parents and children can now head over to the official NORAD Santa Tracker website starting today, December 1, and check out all the fun activities to see and do. From exploring the North Pole and listening to music to browsing Santa’s library, there is a lot for kids to choose from.
The countdown is on, 23 days until Santa Claus makes his yearly flight!
[Featured Image by Orlando/Getty Images]