NORAD Embarks on 68th Year of Tracking Santa with New Features
Published 11:30 am Friday, December 22, 2023
The festive spirit is in full swing as the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) gears up for its 68th year of the much-loved tradition of tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. This year’s NORAD Tracks Santa (NTS) program, now operating from its new location at Hangar 123 of the Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado, promises an array of new features and enhancements.
Originating from a charming mix-up in 1955, when a child accidentally dialed the Continental Air Defense Command’s Operations Center while trying to reach Santa, the NORAD Tracks Santa program has evolved into a major annual event. This blend of military vigilance with festive joy has captivated audiences worldwide for decades.
The 2023 iteration of the program, under the management of 1st Lt. Sean Carter, boasts significant upgrades. These include an improved operational setup, enhanced technological support, and the introduction of additional languages on the NTS website, broadening the program’s global reach and accessibility.
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The preparation for this year’s event has been a collaborative effort, featuring the combined talents of military personnel and civilian volunteers. The 21st Civil Engineer Squadron played a pivotal role in converting Hangar 123 into a captivating winter wonderland, a necessary backdrop for the over 1,000 volunteers expected to participate in the event.
The NTS program has grown into one of the Department of Defense’s largest community engagement programs, with last year’s initiative receiving over 250,000 calls. The volunteers, who will be stationed at Peterson Space Force Base on December 24, will respond to children’s queries about Santa’s current location and expected arrival times at their homes.
Technological advancements have been a focal point in this year’s preparations, with senior voice engineer Byron Bradford from Space Base Delta 1 highlighting the integration of modern communication technologies. These advancements are not only streamlining operations but also enabling volunteers to participate from various locations.
The NORAD Tracks Santa program is more than a festive activity; it’s a reflection of NORAD’s commitment to its core missions of aerospace warning and control. The seamless integration of military precision with the holiday spirit represents the unique character of this program, bringing joy and wonder to children and adults alike during the holiday season.