ROME, NY (12/20/2016)(readMedia)-- New York Air National Guardsmen and Royal Canadian Air Force personnel from the Eastern Air Defense Sector will play a key role Christmas Eve as the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa Claus and his reindeer.
"NORAD has supported Santa Claus' Christmas Eve operations for 61 years and we are always delighted to help," said Col. Emil Filkorn, the commander ofthe Eastern Air Defense Sector, known as EADS. "I can assure everyone that EADS will do everything in its power to assist Santa with his critical mission."
EADS' Battle Control Center (BCC) will monitor Santa constantly as he travels across the eastern U.S. delivering toys and gifts. These activities are in support of the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, which leads the Santa monitoring effort.
The NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, launched on Dec. 1. The site features Santa's North Pole village, a holiday countdown, games and activities. The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese.
NORAD starts its Santa tracking operation at 2:01 a.m. EST on Dec. 24. At 6 a.m. EST, children and parents can call the NORAD operations floor at 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or send an e-mail to email@example.com for live updates. Any time on Dec. 24, Windows Phone users can ask Cortana for Santa's location, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to locate Santa.
Official NORAD Tracks Santa apps are also available in the Windows, Apple and Google Play stores, so parents and children can count down the days until Santa's launch on their smartphones and tablets. Tracking opportunities are also offered on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Google+. Santa followers just need to type @noradsanta" into each search engine to get started.
Media interested in covering NORAD tracks Santa can send e-mail requests to NTSmedia@outlook.com. Broadcasters interested in B-roll, video or audio downloads, or historical footage can visit the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) at http://www.dvidshub.net/NORADTracksSanta. The NORAD public affairs office also is available to assist and can be reached at 719-554-6889.
The Santa tracking tradition started in 1955, when a Colorado Springs, Colorado Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement encouraging local children to call Santa listed an incorrect phone number. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number went into to the Continental Air Defense Command's operations hotline. Col. Harry Shoup, the operations director, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole.
Children who called were given location updates and a tradition was born.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created the bi-national air defense command North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
The Eastern Air Defense Sector is a North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) headquarters unit located at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, New York. Responsible for the air defense of the eastern
United States, EADS is composed of New York Air National Guardsmen from the 224th Air Defense Group, a Canadian Forces detachment, Army, Navy and Coast Guard liaison officers, and federal civilians. EADS also has two detachments located in the National Capital Region.
Photo: Caption: Eastern Air Defense Sector personnel conduct training in preparation for Santa tracking operations. Pictured from front to back, are: Sgt. Thomas Vance of the Royal Canadian Air Force, a member of EADS Canadian Detachment; and Master Sgt. Michelle Gagnon, Master Sgt. Lena Kryczkowski (standing) and Master Sgt. Shane Reid, all members of the New York Air National Guard's 224th Air Defense Squadron.