Government Shutdown Won’t Stop NORAD Santa Tracker

December 20, 2018, 11:39 AM HST · Updated December 20, 11:41 AM
Debra Lordan · 1 Comment
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“On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen. On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen!

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail nor government shutdown will keep NORAD’s Santa Tracker from following the journey of St. Nick and his reindeer this year.

Nine governmental departments and dozens of agencies will run out of money at midnight on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, unless unless President Donald Trump and Congress agree to extend funding—but the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Santa Tracker, celebrating its 63rd year, won’t be affected.

NORAD is a joint United States-Canada organization that provides aerospace and maritime warnings and aerospace control of North America.

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“We’re on duty 24-7, 365 days a year,” said Capt. Cameron Hillier, spokesman for NORAD and U.S. North Command.

It all started with a local ad that listed a phone number to chat with Santa. But when keiki tried to call Santa, they reached the Continental Air Defense Command Operation Center (the predecessor to NORAD) instead.

Kids were connected with a colonel Instead of Kris Kringle—and a Christmas tradition was born. Now the same satellites and radar used to protect North America are used to track Santa.

NORAD gets its U.S. funding through the Department of Defense; its budget was already approved by Congress and signed into law by the president. A minimal amount of federal funding is used for the tracker. Most of the program’s resources are provided by corporate sponsors and by about 1,400 volunteers who will join NORAD on Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and help man an around-the-clock call center on Christmas Eve.

This year, Santa’s yuletide journey is going high-tech, with a more mobile friendly website, social media channels, games and music.And on Christmas Eve a Santa Cam will provide streaming video and a call center full of volunteers will answer questions from good little boys and girls around the globe.

On Dec. 24, users may also call 1-877-HiNORAD to get an up-to-date report on Santa’s location.

Debra Lordan
Debra Lordan has been a writer and website editor for Maui Now since December 2014.

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