© 2020
Telling West Virginia's Story
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
TV Outages in Eastern Panhandle

Government Shutdown Won't Affect Santa Tracker, NORAD Says

NOEL KING, HOST:

All right. So the government may be partially shut down. But as we head into Christmas, there is one holiday-related government service that's still going - NORAD's Santa tracker.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Santa knows the skies above North America are safe as can be because one command is watching.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

That's right. The command is a decades-long tradition. The North American Aerospace Defense Command tracks Santa's journey on Christmas Eve into the early hours of Christmas morning, keeping real-time tabs on his trip from the North Pole and across the globe delivering toys.

KING: Around 1,500 volunteers support military personnel in order to pull this off every year, and it's not just tracking Santa's journey.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Well, he'll be there around 11:30 tonight.

KING: They field calls and emails from curious kids who have questions about Santa like, what's his birthday?

GREENE: I love this. And actually, the NORAD-tracks-Santa tradition dates back 63 years. This is dating back to when a department store ad gave kids a number to call to reach Santa. But the ad had a misprint in the number which sent a flood of calls to Colonel Harry Shoup at the Continental Air Defense Command operation center. His kids recounted the story on NPR in 2014.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

PAMELA FARRELL: They had children calling one after another. So he put a couple of airmen on the phones to act like Santa Claus.

KING: Today, volunteers answer more than 100,000 calls, and the NORAD tracks Santa website gets millions of visitors.

GREENE: And let's just get the recent update here. According to the tracker, as of early this morning, Santa was in his workshop still preparing to take off. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


WVPB is local news, education, music, and entertainment for West Virginia.
Your donation today will help keep us strong and vital.