Originally published December 20, 2017
As an adult, it’s easy to get cynical around the holidays. Personally I always start sounding a little bit like Holden Caulfield, decrying hypocrisy swaddled in tinsel and garland. But there are still some things that make my Grinch-like heart grow this time of year. One of them is the NORAD Santa Tracker.
Started in 1955 when a newspaper misprinted a department store phone number for Santa, putting Colonel Harry Shoup on the spot when a child called. That year he assigned some airmen to answer phones to answer as Santa. Growing from there, NORAD would provide records to radio stations with updates on Santa’s position through his ride. But like so many other things, the NORAD Santa Tracker was not immune to Digital Transformation.
Since 1997, NORAD has offered an online Santa tracker. Since then, their digital presence has expanded to impressive heights. They now offer the site in eight different language, serving up over 78 million page visits, growing 25% each of the last two years. Not limited to just Christmas Eve, the site offers games, a count down calendar, Christmas music from the US Air Force Academy Band, and Santa Cam videos. They’ve got a large YouTube channel, smartphone apps, and social media accounts.