NORAD Santa Tracker Continued Despite Government Shutdown—Here’s How The Heartwarming Tradition Began ❤️

Last week, President Donald Trump opted not to sign a stopgap funding bill approved by Congress, increasing the risk of a partial government shutdown. Lo and behold, the government did shut down, the third such closure of the Trump presidency.

The shutdown means many federal employees will not be paid until the matter is resolved, which likely won’t be until after the New Year. Amid the sobering news, it brings a twinkle to our eyes to know the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) still tracked Santa’s journey, as it has for the last 63 years.

This year, the NORAD Santa website and hotline, 1-877-HI-NORAD, was manned by around 1,500 volunteers who took calls and answered emails from children around the world inquiring about Santa’s whereabouts “with the help of satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters.”

In 1955, a child trying to reach Santa Claus on a hotline number provided in a Sears advertisement misdialed the number and instead reached Colonel Harry Shoup, who was a Crew Commander at CONAD, or Continental Air Defense Command, and manned a top-secret line reserved for reporting a crisis.

Reportedly, Shoup was gruff with the child, but then identified himself as Santa Claus and played along. He later took calls from other children who were curious about Santa’s whereabouts.

Then Shoup saw an excellent public relations opportunity. That was when he asked CONAD’s public relations officer, Colonel Barney Oldfield, to inform the press that CONAD was tracking Santa’s sleigh.

“CONAD, Army, Navy and Marine Air Forces will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the U.S. against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas,” Oldfield said in his press release.

The origin story has grown rather muddled over the years (Shoup himself told several different versions), but you can learn more about NORAD’s beginnings by watching the video below.

People are thrilled that the tradition is alive and well, government shutdown be damned.

Our hearts have grown several sizes today thinking of all these volunteers who worked to keep spirits bright.