Naval Reservists Support NORADís Annual Tracks Santa Project

Story Number: NNS021224-07Release Date: 12/24/2002 9:39:00 AM
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By Ensign Eric Brian and Journalist 2nd Class Darin Arnold, Naval Reserve Navy Information Bureau 1118, Fort Carson

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NNS) -- Naval Reservists of Navy Information Bureau (NIB) 1118, Fort Carson, teamed with North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) public affairs in the command's annual tracking of Santa Claus on Dec. 21-22.

The six-member team produced and disseminated a 60-second holiday greeting to more than 35 U.S. Navy ships at sea to encourage Sailors, Marines and their families to visit the Web site,

NORAD, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, is responsible for the aerospace defense of the United States and Canada. During the holiday season, however, NORAD takes on the added task of tracking Santa.

The tradition of tracking Santa Claus started in 1955 by pure accident after a Colorado Springs newspaper ran an advertisement for a local department store's "Santa Hotline." The phone number in the ad mistakenly turned out to be the "Operations Hotline" at the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor.

Those on duty that night received calls from children wanting to speak to Santa Claus. The senior officer, Col. Harry Shoup, calmly told the children who called he was helping Santa, and the command could see Santa on the radar screens heading south from the North Pole.

Local media heard of the calls and reported the story.

The next year, calls came flooding in to Continental Air Defense Command from children who wanted to know where Santa was. A tradition was born and was assumed by NORAD in 1957. Since then, the program has expanded gradually over the years hitting the Internet in 1997.

NIB 1118 also responded to queries from the Web site and assisted NORAD during a three-hour live radio broadcast, which featured children calling Santa.

The Naval Reserve public affairs unit is one of 18 Navy Information Bureaus located throughout the United States. The 10-person unit supports the U.S. Northern Command/NORAD Public Affairs, Naval Reserve Center Fort Carson and Navy Office of Information Southwest, Dallas.

For related news, visit the Naval Reserve Force Navy NewsStand page at

A young boy from the Elizabeth Saunders Home for orphans near the U.S. Naval Air Facility launches into the lap of Santa Claus
Official U.S. Navy file photo of Santa Claus paying a holiday visit to children in Japan. During the Christmas season, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado Springs, Colo., tracks Santa's yearly trip around the world. The NORAD tradition started in 1955.
December 9, 2002
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