There is a way for you and your loved ones to track Santa this year no matter what piece of technology you own.
For the other 364 days of the year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, is busy protecting the skies over the United States and Canada. Yet this coming Wednesday, the base — along with 1,700 volunteers — will spend time monitoring the skies around the world as Santa Claus takes his annual Christmas flight.
As technology has become ubiquitous, so has the ways to track Santa. With the help of Microsoft, NORAD will have a live tracking feed on its website. If you’ve packed your own sleigh and hit the road on Christmas Eve, a mobile app on iOS, Android and Windows Phone will keep you updated. If you’re busy behind the wheel, you can dial up OnStar, which will tell you how close Santa is to your house. In a new addition this year, Windows Phone owners can use the phone’s personal voice assistant, Cortana, to pinpoint Santa’s exact location.
However, most of the volunteers will be manning NORAD’s phone lines, basically serving as the North Pole’s customer service line, answering all sorts of questions about Santa’s trip. With the help of Verizon, volunteers will field calls from 4 a.m. MST to 3 a.m. Christmas morning. NORAD spokeswoman Stacey Knott said the calls are nonstop, with volunteers last year taking more 117,000 calls from around the world.
Sean Hines, a Verizon employee from Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been volunteering with his family for the past four years, and has had his father, Pat, fly in from Phoenix to lend a hand. He calls the hour he spends volunteering “one of the most rewarding hours he has ever spent.”
“It’s pleasing to know some of those kids out there believe it’s just as real as can be,” Hines told FedScoop. “We’re so far away from that at our age that it’s good to hear that people still believe in that.”
Hines said the calls range from fun to strange, with one woman actually asking him to wish her dog a Merry Christmas. But most of the time, he is persuading kids to quickly fall asleep.
“I think the most fun is to hear the 3-, 4-, 5-year-old kids listen with baited breath on how Santa is going to stop by their house and deliver presents,” Hines said. “It’s amazing how the parent will get back on the phone at the end of the conversation and say, ‘I don’t know what you said to them, but they’re up in bed already.'”
So while Santa’s support team is busy keeping the kids at bay, it is up to NORAD to actually keep tabs on Kris Kringle. So how do they do it? FedScoop asked Knott for the details, but, as members of military installations are accustomed to doing, she guarded the answer like any other state secret.
“Santa flies, and we track him,” Knott said. “He’s got the magic, we’re just doing our mission.”
Check on Santa’s location Wednesday by calling 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723).