EADS ‘elves’ set to aid Santa’s ‘critical mission’

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Santa Claus’ travels on Christmas Eve can be followed again this year thanks to a joint effort between North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Eastern Air Defense Sector located in Rome.

“We’re delighted to support NORAD’s Santa tracking operations,” said Col. Paul M. Bishop, EADS Commander, in a statement. “I can assure everyone that EADS will do everything in its power to assist Santa with his critical mission.”

EADS is part of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region-1st Air Force, and is responsible for the air defense of the eastern U.S.

Multiple ways to eye journey

There are several ways to track Santa’s Christmas Eve travels this year.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, features Santa’s North Pole Village, a holiday countdown, games, a movie theater, holiday music, webstore and more. The website is available in eight languages: 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 smart phones and tables. 

Tracking opportunities are also offered through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, as well as on partner platforms Bing, Amazon Alexa and OnStar.

Starting at 4 a.m. EST on Christmas Eve — Friday, Dec. 24 — website visitors can see updates as Santa makes preparations for his flight. Then, at 6 a.m. EST, children and parents can call to inquire about Santa by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) where they will either speak to a live phone operator or hear a recorded update.

Due to COVID concerns, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center will have fewer phone operators, so callers who do not reach a volunteer will hear a regularly updated recording as to Santa’s current location. Anytime on Christmas Eve, Amazon Alexa users can ask for Santa’s location through the NORAD Tracks Santa skill for Amazon Alexa and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa. Santa Trackers can also use the Bing search engine to learn of Santa’s location.

Tradition started in 1955

Tracking Santa has been a tradition since 1955 when a newspaper advertisement informed children they could call Santa directly – only the contact number was misprinted.

Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through 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. Thus, a holiday tradition was born, which NORAD has carried on since.

Each year since NORAD has reported Santa’s location on December 24 to millions of children and families around the world.

Efforts beyond Christmas Eve

Although NORAD continues its holiday tradition, the top priority of the bi-national Canadian and American command is the defense of North America.

NORAD employs a network of space-based, aerial and ground-based sensors, air-to-air refueling tankers and fighter aircraft on alert, controlled by a sophisticated command and control network to detect, deter, and defend against aerial threats that originate outside or within North American airspace.

EADS is located at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park, and is part of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region-1st Air Force (CONR-1AF), which is located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

Responsible for the air defense of the eastern U.S., EADS is composed of the New York Air National Guard’s 224th Air Defense Group, a Canadian Forces detachment, U.S. Army and Navy liaison officers, federal civilians and contractors. EADS also has two detachments in the National Capital Region.

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