Back in 1955, a Sears store had an advertisement listing Santa Claus’ phone number, prompting children to call and speak with the generous old man. Naturally, thousands of children tried to call. What they didn’t know is that the number had been misprinted, and was actually the emergency number for CONAD, NORAD‘s ancestor.
The man in charge of the organization, in an act of generosity, asked his team to verify Santa’s location using radar echoes, and when children called the number, they were given the speculated position of Santa’s sleigh. From this point, it became a tradition at NORAD to follow Santa’s movement across the world. Naturally, as years passed, NORAD has modernized its technique to follow the bearded fellow, using 47 radar installations and multiple geostationary satellites to carefully monitor his progress.
So this year again, on December 24, for the fiftieth consecutive year (1958 – 2008), NORAD will be following Santa Claus’s journey across the world, inviting kids to follow him on a Web site dedicated to the task, noradsanta.org. And for the second time, the site will be using Google Maps and Google Earth to display the location of the gift-filled sleigh.
Last year, NORAD Tracks Santa received over 10 million unique visitors from 212 different countries.
[Via Branchez-Vous (French)]