Merry Christmas! HO HO HO!</br></br>So ... if you ever believed in Santa between 1955 and today, you may have heard of a little thing called the Official NORAD Santa Tracker, which is still a pretty big deal for about 20 million kids around the world when December rolls around.</br></br>The Santa Tracker has a long and storied history that has since grown into a holiday tradition –complete with <a title="NORAD Santa Tracker" href="http://www.noradsanta.org/" target="_blank">its own website</a> – which is actually pretty neat, and features some cool stats and holiday stuff kids love.</br></br><strong>NORAD & Santa Tracker: One Serious Mission</strong></br></br>For those who aren’t familiar, though, Santa Tracker is a full-blown military operation conducted by the <a title="NORAD" href="http://www.norad.mil/AboutNORAD/NORADHistory.aspx" target="_blank">North American Aerospace Defense Command</a>, which is a no-kidding U.S. Air Force unit charged with patrolling the skies over the land of the free … and Canada.</br></br>Okay, so maybe it’s not an actual military operation, but NORAD is all too real and it really does patrol the skies. In fact, there’s a fair chance one of its many fighter jets is screeching somewhere over your state right now.</br></br>But, what about Santa – how did he fall under the watchful eye of NORAD?<strong> </strong></br></br><strong>Sears, Roebuck & Co.: Top Secret Misprint</strong></br></br>As the story goes, it all started when Col. Harry Shoup, commander of the NORAD Combat Alert Center, received a call on the “red phone” back in December 1955. Though the top-secret number was reserved for nuclear emergencies only, it somehow ended up <a title="NPR" href="http://www.npr.org/2014/12/19/371647099/norads-santa-tracker-began-with-a-typo-and-a-good-sport" target="_blank">in a Sears catalog as Santa’s North Pole hotline</a>.</br></br>Col. Shoup was not amused, but he saw a chance to turn a security blunder into a morale booster for his troops by telling the press that they had spotted a sleigh on the NORAD radar.</br></br>From then on, it was NORAD’s duty to report on Santa’s whereabouts during the holiday season.</br></br><strong>Today’s Santa Trackers: A Volunteer Force</strong></br></br>Col. Shoup passed away in 2009, having lived the life of hero to both his troops and to millions of kids the world over. And, his legacy lives on.</br></br>This Christmas, NORAD staff and their family members volunteer to answer calls, emails and letters from children on the lookout for Kris Kringle. In 2015, NORAD reports that <a title="The Morning Call" href="http://www.mcall.com/entertainment/kids/mc-santa-tracker-radar-norad-60-20151214-story.html" target="_blank">upwards of 1,200 volunteers</a> are set to help out.</br></br>We hope they – and you – have a very happy holiday, and a merry Christmas!