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NEWS | Dec. 21, 2023

New York Air National Guard Members Help Track Santa Claus

By Patrick Young, New York National Guard

ROME, N.Y. - New York Air National Guardsmen assigned to NORAD's Eastern Air Defense Sector will help track Santa as he makes his way around the world on Christmas Eve.

Each year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducts NORAD Tracks Santa to help families monitor the progress of Santa Claus.

The Americans and Canadians working at Eastern Air Defense Sector headquarters are happy to be part of this cherished annual tradition, according to Col. Joseph Roos, the commander of EADS.

"Tracking Santa is not only a joyful tradition but also a demonstration of the advanced capabilities of our aerospace defense systems," said Roos. "Our skilled men and women are always ready to carry out this unique mission, showcasing the strength of our collaboration with our partners."

EADS, in Rome, New York, is part of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region-1st Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

EADS is responsible for the air defense of the eastern United States and is composed of the New York Air National Guard's 224th Air Defense Group, a Canadian Armed Forces detachment, U.S. Army and Navy liaison officers, federal civilians and contractors.

EADS also has two detachments that protect the airspace above Washington.

This effort involves a seamless integration of NORAD's cutting-edge technology and the expertise of American and Canadian military personnel, according to Lt. Col. Michael Wiseman, who commands EADS Canadian Forces detachment.

"The partnership between the men and women of EADS is a testament to the enduring friendship between our nations," Wiseman said. "Each year, our joint efforts bring joy to countless families as we track Santa's journey through the Eastern skies."

The annual tracking operation involves radar systems, satellites and fighter jets that work in tandem to follow Santa's sleigh as it travels from the North Pole. Real-time updates are provided to eager children and families through NORAD's official Santa Tracker website and hotline.

Families wishing to track Santa's progress to their homes can do so by going to the NORAD Tracks Santa website at

As Santa makes his way through the Eastern Air Defense Sector's area of responsibility, the collaboration between EADS and the Canadian NORAD Region ensures a seamless handover of tracking responsibilities as he crosses the U.S.-Canadian border.

The Santa tracking tradition has been a staple of NORAD's holiday activities since 1955.

In 1955, a newspaper ad informed children they could call Santa directly — only the contact number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty, U.S. Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the predecessor to NORAD.

Shoup was quick to realize a mistake had been made and assured the child he was Santa.

Shoup then assigned a duty officer to continue answering calls. Thus, a holiday tradition was born, which NORAD has carried on since it was created in 1958.

Each year since, NORAD has reported Santa's location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families around the world. 

The NORAD Tracks Santa website,, launched Dec. 1 and features Santa's North Pole Village, a holiday countdown, games, a movie theater, holiday music, a web store and more.

The website is available in nine languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese and Korean.

The official NORAD Tracks Santa app is also available in the Apple App and Google Play stores, allowing parents and children to count down the days to Santa's launch on their smartphones and tablets.

Tracking opportunities are also offered through social media on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, as well as on partner platforms Amazon, Alexa and OnStar.

Starting at 4 a.m. EST on Dec. 24, website visitors can see updates as Santa prepares for his flight. Then, at 6 a.m. EST, children and parents can call to inquire about Santa by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) where they will either speak to a live phone operator or hear a recorded update.



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