ROME, N.Y. - The North American Aerospace Defense Command defends the North American airspace 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
On Dec. 24, NORAD will add one element to its mission for the 67th year, as it tracks Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve flight.
American and Canadian NORAD personnel from the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) in Rome, New York, are ready to support this effort.
"EADS is proud to support NORAD's Santa tracking operations," said Col. Paul M. Bishop, EADS commander. "Our highly trained Airmen, who are on duty every night of the year, always look forward to tracking our special aviator on Christmas Eve."
NORAD employs a network of space-based, aerial and ground-based sensors, air-to-air refueling tankers and fighter aircraft, controlled by a command and control network to detect, deter and defend against aerial threats outside or within North American airspace.
EADS includes the New York Air National Guard's 224th Air Defense Group, a Canadian Armed Forces detachment, U.S. Army and Navy liaison officers, federal civilians and contractors. EADS also has two detachments in the National Capital Region.
The NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, launched Dec. 1 and features Santa's North Pole Village, a holiday countdown, games, a movie theater and holiday music.
The website is available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.
The official NORAD Tracks Santa app is also in the Apple App and Google Play stores, so parents and children can count down the days until Santa's launch on their smartphones and tablets.
Tracking opportunities are also offered through social media on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, as well as on partner platforms Bing, Amazon, Alexa and OnStar.
Starting at 4 a.m. EST Dec. 24, website visitors can see updates as Santa prepares for his flight. At 6 a.m., children and parents can inquire about Santa by calling the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to speak to an operator or hear a recorded update.
Tracking Santa has been a tradition since 1955 when a local newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly – only the contact number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD.
Shoup was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa. Shoup then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls, and a holiday tradition was born. NORAD has carried on the tradition since it was created in 1958, reporting Santa's location to millions of children and families around the world.