The Magical Santa Tracker Story

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry. Well, if you mean actually “watching out” the window for Santa Clause, the US Government already had that covered. In fact, this year is the 60th anniversary for the Santa Tracker.

It’s a story you like to hear about your government, where someone with a heart a long time ago did the right thing, and something big was born.

Here’s how the story goes

Once upon a time, many years ago, Sears & Roebuck bought an ad in a newspaper to provide a phone number for youngsters to call to talk to none other than Santa himself. It was a unique marketing idea, and back then Sears was the big boy in town as far as retailers go.

What happened next is almost magical, the stuff of great stories.

As if by Divine Providence, the newspaper typesetter made a mistake in the phone number. Instead of publishing the number to talk to Santa, the paper listed the number of a crisis line at what then was NORAD’s precursor called Air Operations Center at Continental Air Defense Command. When kids called, they weren’t reaching the North Pole. They were reaching Colorado Springs.

Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup answered the phone and, hearing a child’s voice, thought it was a prank call.

Now, one version of the story has it that once he realizing it was a wrong number. So he decided to pretend to BE Santa, so as not to let the wee one down. Eventually, the number of calls became so great that Shoup instructed his staff to begin telling the kiddies not that they could speak to him. But that they could give them the location of Santa. The official Santa Tracker was born,

The other version had Shoup informing them right from the outset that he could only track him. The rest is pretty much the same.

Long story short, what started as a fluke has ended up being something quite special to large numbers of hopeful boys and girls. Over 125,000 calls are expecting to come in tonight as eager kids from all over the States. To get help from NORAD on the exact location of Santa Claus.

There’s much more in the form of tracking tactics. Other interesting things to read about here compliments of the AP via nola.com