NORTH POLE — From touchscreen tablets to smartphones, kids today are more tech-savvy than ever — and this Christmas Eve they can put those skills to good use.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), celebrating the 61st Anniversary of tracking Santa’s yuletide journey, has opened its NORAD Tracks Santa website — www.noradsanta.org.
The NORAD Tracks Santa website features Santa’s North Pole Village, which includes a holiday countdown, games, activities, and more. The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.
Official NORAD Tracks Santa apps are also available in the Windows, Apple and Google Play stores, so parents and children can countdown the days until Santa’s launch on their smart phones and tablets. Tracking opportunities are also offered on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Google-Plus.Santa followers just need to type “@noradsanta” into each search engine to get started.
Starting at 2:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight. NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations. Then, at 6 a.m. Eastern Time, trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (877-446-6723) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any time on December 24, Windows Phone users can ask Cortana for Santa’s location, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa. NORAD Tracks Santa is truly a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere.
This is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors. This year’s contributors include: the 21st Space Wing, Acuity Scheduling, Adobe, Alaska NORAD Region, America Forces Network, Analytical Graphics, Inc., Agingo, Avaya, BeMerry! Santa / Noerr Programs, Bing, Canadian NORAD Region, Chirpon, The Citadel Mall, Civil Air Patrol, Christmas in the Park, Colorado Springs Business Alliance, Continental NORAD Region, CradlePoint, Defense Video & Imagery Distribution Systems, DoD News, The Elf on the Shelf, Extended Stay America, Getty Images, Globelink Foreign Language Center, Harris, and Hewlett Packard.
Additional contributors include: Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo, iLink-Systems, ikaria consulting, Kids.gov, Level 3 Communications, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Meshbox, Microsoft, Office Depot/Office Max, Naden Band of Maritime Forces Pacific, Newsline360, OneRender, OnStar, PCI Broadband, Portable North Pole/Ugroup Media, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Colorado, SiriusXM, Space Foundation, Spil Games, Strategic Air & Space Museum, U.S. Air Force Academy Band, U.S. Department of State Family Liaison Office, Verizon, Windows Azure, and Zillow.
NORAD’s Santa tracking endeavor started in 1955 when a local media advertisement directed children to call Santa direct – only the number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. Thus began the tradition, which NORAD has carried on since it was created in 1958.
Though tracking Santa’s Christmas Eve journey each year is an important task, NORAD is also charged with the missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America. Aerospace warning includes the monitoring of man-made objects in space, and the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support arrangements with other commands.
For more information about NORAD Tracks Santa, please visit www.noradsanta.org.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314.