It’s become a Christmas Eve tradition for families across the globe. For more than half a century, the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) has tracked Santa’s flight as he and his reindeers deliver presents to good children around the world.
And, for the past five years, Google has teamed up with the Norad to update children and their parents about Santa’s progress from the North Pole. But this time round, Bill Gates-founded Microsoft is sponsoring the service for the first time.
A spokesman for Norad said: “NTS (Norad Tracks Santa) and Google mutually agreed to go in new directions.”
He added: “We are excited to welcome a number of new contributors, to include Microsoft, Windows Azure, Bing, and iLink-systems, among others, to help us in our mission of tracking Santa. The ability to work with a diverse team of contributors is fundamental to the NTS mission, and we appreciate all of the continued support of all contributors.”
Perhaps the decision is partly down to new apps Norad has built this year which are for Windows Phone, Android and iOS, along with an app for Microsoft’s new operating system Windows 8.
The move is seen as being a real coup for Microsoft as a massive number of people are expected to log in to Norad’s site to check where Father Christmas is. Jeff Davis, who is director of Norad, said: “This year, nearly 25 million people around the world are expected to follow Santa’s journey in real-time on the Web, on their mobile devices, by e-mail and by phone. This combination of new and old technologies is essential to helping Norad keep up with the incredible demand for Santa tracking that grows each year.”
“It’s a big job,” he added, “and we can’t do it alone, but the holidays have always been a time for bringing people together. With the help of our industry partners and friends in Canada, the tradition will live on again this year.”
It’s a tradition which started in 1955 after an advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to ring Santa so instead of getting through to Saint Nicholas, they were directed to the Commander-in-Chief of what was then called the Continental Air Defence Command (Conad).
Getting into the festive spirit, the then Director of Operations Colonel Harry Shoup asked his staff to check the radar to see if they could spot Santa making his way from the North Pole.
Any children who called were given updates on where he was. In 1958 Norad took on the tradition and now children and parents across the globe continue to rely on Norad to provide updates on Santa’s journey.
It’s also a great way of persuading excited little ones to go to bed on Christmas Eve. When you can see Santa is approaching your home country, you know it’s time to get to sleep before he arrives.
Anyone who wants to track Santa will be able to see his journey from around midday on Christmas Eve.