HomeNewsArticle Display

'Starr' helps NORAD track Santa

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFPN) -- A “Starr” in the east will help guide North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Santa-tracking tradition Dec. 24. The Starr is none other than former Beatle, Ringo Starr, who will be NORAD’S honorary Santa tracker for Christmas 2003.

“Santa and I are personal friends,” Starr said from his home in England. “He’s asked me to do this special job with this incredible new SantaCam, and I’ll be tracking him as he comes over Great Britain.”

NORAD technicians upgraded the omnidirectional high-speed digital SantaCam stationed in Great Britain and have moved it from Stonehenge to a top-secret hideaway near Starr’s home.

“We took it offline for awhile and upgraded it, and gave it some new capabilities,” said Maj. Doug Martin, NORAD Santa-tracking operations chief. “We then began to wonder who we could ask to operate it this year.

“We discussed it with Santa, and his first idea was Ringo Starr,” Martin said. “When we called Ringo, Santa had already phoned, and he said ‘Yes’ immediately. We were just thrilled.”

“Ringo recently received Santa-tracking techniques from NORAD technicians and has become an expert in the use of the SantaCam,” said Canadian Maj. Gen. Angus Watt, director of operations for NORAD. “We hope he’ll capture images of Father Christmas somewhere in Great Britain this year.”

“He’ll be looking all over Great Britain, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England,” Martin said. “We expect images to come in around 4 p.m. (MST) Christmas Eve. That’s around 11 (p.m.) England time.”

“Children will see amazing things,” Starr said. “I’m privileged to be one of the Santa trackers.”

The “Santa-tracking” tradition started in 1955 by pure accident after a Colorado Springs newspaper ran an advertisement for a department store “Santa Hotline.” The ad included a special phone number, which turned out to be the operations hotline to NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command. When callers asked to speak to Santa, the servicemembers on duty were surprised to hear 6-year-old children on the hotline.

The senior officer on duty at the time, Col. Harry Shoup, received the first Santa call. Realizing what had happened, Shoup told the callers he was helping Santa and said his radar screens showed Santa heading south from the North Pole.

His staff quickly jumped in to help handle the influx of calls. A picture of Santa and his reindeer was added to the map of North America, and the tradition was underway.

Local media heard of the calls and reported the story locally. The next year, calls came flooding in to Continental Air Defense Command from children who wanted to know where Santa was. A tradition was born -- a tradition NORAD assumed in 1957. Since then, the program has expanded gradually over the years, hitting the Internet in 1997.

In 2001, NORAD’s Santa-tracking mission was nearly forgotten in the wake of the events of Sept. 11, Martin said. It was not until early December that anyone had been able to give the annual tradition any thought. The operations center was readied and volunteers stood by the phones.

That night, Martin said, “we received a call from a New York City firefighter who was feeling very emotional, because he was with his children on Christmas Eve. This particular person had lost 43 friends in the terrorist attacks.

“We were all touched by this firefighter’s loss, but it also gave us the realization that we were doing the right thing by making sure that kids around the world knew that NORAD is still tracking Santa,” he said.

NORAD’s Santa-tracking mission will also be featured on television during a special biography program about Santa on Dec. 18 on A&E Biography.

Children worldwide can phone NORAD’s operations center beginning at 7 a.m. MST on Christmas Eve at (719) 474-2111, or toll free outside the Colorado Springs area at (877) Hi-NORAD. Children can also visit the “NORAD Tracks Santa” Web site at www.noradsanta.org to view reports on Santa’s progress and to see Starr’s SantaCam images.

As an added attraction this year, visitors to NORAD’s Santa-tracking Web site will hear some of Starr’s Christmas music, including “I Wanna Be Santa Claus.”

Engage

Twitter
Congratulations to the winners of the annual Air Force Art Contest! More than 790 artists submitted over 1,000 piec… https://t.co/Ig4yL7GiYJ
Twitter
RT @NORADCommand: #NORAD is increasingly integrating its bi-national operations with other commands and allied forces around the globe to e…
Twitter
.@HQUSAFEAFAF #Airmen tackled training obstacles during the multinational Arctic Challenge Exercise 2021. Over 45 d… https://t.co/ClslKugpIl
Twitter
Moody Air Force Base #Airmen conducted a Heritage Flight with the HH-60G Pave Hawk and HH-60W Jolly Green II. The J… https://t.co/8HSXly2zyn
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: ANG Airmen from Maryland, California, Tennessee, Arkansas & Michigan conduct aircraft fire training during PATRIOT 21 in…
Twitter
.@RamsteinAirBase C-130's & Amn w/ the 435th Contingency Response Group are participating alongside the Royal Moroc… https://t.co/b84jylScrA
Twitter
125th Special Tactics Squadron operators conduct a full mission profile exercise in Oregon. The squadron organizes,… https://t.co/9xtrhej53T
Twitter
RT @USAfricaCommand: Moroccan, U.S. fighters & refuelers showcase combined ops 🇲🇦🇺🇸 “Every flight brings another opportunity to work close…
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: Airmen prepare for tactical airlift operations aboard a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, supporting @CJTFOIR. The C-130J deli…
Twitter
RAF Lakenheath performed a missing man flying formation in memory of 1st Lt. Kenneth “Kage” Allen, who was killed a… https://t.co/yrGm4i2dRS
Twitter
RT @NORADCommand: #AmalgamDart brings together personnel and assets from various commands such @INDOPACOM @US_Stratcom @US_SpaceCom @usairf
Twitter
She used to lead cheers for a @NFL team. Now she leads #Airmen at @9thRW, California. The only thing that's changed… https://t.co/Jri6r0mGI0
Twitter
.@AirNatlGuard #Airman is leading a multi-agency effort to create the first anthropometric—or body measurement—stan… https://t.co/2V8ZgBN67g
Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: Our EOD Airmen are taking over the night and prepared for the fight any time of the day! The 378th ECES's EOD team locates, i…
Twitter
RT @AFGlobalStrike: Being a flying crew chief on a #B52H is no easy feat. While deployed in forward operating locations, chiefs use their t…
Twitter
#Airmen and @USArmy Soldiers are participating in the virtual 2021 Joint Forces Contracting Exercise. The goal is t… https://t.co/qscGsekWC4
Twitter
Good luck Capt. Westmoreland! #USOpen https://t.co/dE4sq6bnRQ
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: This week, 1000+ personnel from across the nation traveled to Wisconsin to participate in PATRIOT 21. Exercise PATRIOT jo…
Twitter
Check out this week of #airpower on display! Share your favorite and tell us why! Check out the rest of the Week i… https://t.co/CmpDDTMZ21
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,347,934
Follow Us