COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Every year on Christmas Eve, the North American Aerospace Defense Command takes on the mission of following Santa’s Christmas journey across the world. This is the 60th year NORAD is tracking Santa for more than 13 million people in more than 200 countries.
FOX21 got a behind the scenes look at what goes in to preparing to track Santa.
“We are getting all of the preparations finalized for December 24th,” said Stacey Knott, media specialist for the Track Santa Operations Center. “So our phone teams and our computer teams are all here and making sure everything is ready for the big day.”
But seeking Santa’s sleigh couldn’t happen without the help of volunteers.
“We have 1,500 volunteers who have signed up to volunteer on the 24th in shifts for 23 hours,” said Major Jennifer Stadnick, a senior member of the NORAD Tracks Santa Program.
Dozens of companies and corporations spend their night before Christmas answering calls and emails from good little boys and girls across the world.
“We’re so happy to be a team member and this is our fourth season as the Noerr Corporation based in Arvada, Colorado,” said Michael Campbell, Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Partnerships at Noerr Corporations. “So we’re so excited to be here and help celebrate the 60th anniversary.”
Noerr happens to be in the Santa business too. They send Old Saint Nick to shopping centers around the country.
“We think it’s simply just a magical treat that families get to share with their children on Christmas Eve, call in and ask questions, ‘where’s Santa now? Is he near me?’ It’s very much magical,” said Campbell.
NORAD’s job is to keep the skies over North America safe and they use the same systems to search for Santa.
Knott said, “Our military satellites, our radars, our fighter jets, and then on December 24th we add in our special Santa cameras that capture images as he’s passing special places like the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben in London, England.”
For many families, keeping track of Kris Kringle has become a Christmas custom.
Knott said, “I think when you go and you’re doing all of your holiday traditions on December 24th and you’re getting ready, there’s just something special about either calling into the operations center or checking the website and seeing where’s Santa right now? When is he coming?”
NORAD’s Santa operations center opens at 4 a.m. MST on Dec. 24. NORAD says Santa usually starts in the South Pacific and hits New Zealand and Australia before heading to Japan and Asia. Africa and Europe are next, followed by North America and South America.