SOUTHPORT, Fla. (WMBB) — Officials from Tyndall Air Force Base spent Wednesday morning telling preschool, kindergarten, and first graders at Deane Bozeman School about the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) Santa tracker.

“Even if Santa gets into a really big storm, and maybe our radars can’t see him really well, we can use our infrared Santa cam to find Rudolph’s nose,” NCOIC of training at the 601st Air Operations Center Sergeant Kenneth Myhre said.  “So we’ll always know where Santa is so we can make sure he gets to where he’s going safely.”

The NORAD Santa tracker began with an accident.  In 1955, a Sears advertisement was printed giving kids a phone number to call Santa.

But instead of reaching the North Pole, a misprinted number led kids to dial the number of NORAD’s predecessor the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD). 

“Instead of saying ‘you got the wrong number,’ Colonel Harry Shoup was the name of the gentleman that answered the phone that night, and he decided to tell these kids where Santa was. And since then, it’s been a tradition of ours,” 601st Air Operations Center at Tyndall Air Force Base Major Andrew Scott said. 

Since then, kids from around the world have been able to call and, in more recent years, go online to track Santa’s journey. 

“So, we came here today to explain to the children the different ways that NORAD is able to track Santa using radars, using satellites, and fighter jets,” Myhre said. “So that we can always know where Santa is across the U.S. and keep him safe as he delivers all the toys to the boys and girls.”

In addition to answering students’ questions about Santa, the program also allows Tyndall staff to spend time developing relationships with the kids in their community.

“It’s great that we’re able to be able to step out and that the children are able to see the military in this kind of light and see what we do and how interactive we are,” Myhre said. “And yes, hearing one child after hearing about what we do say out loud, I want to be a part of NORAD that’s exciting, right? Because we’re helping to teach the next generation that there are great opportunities in the military for them.”

Scott said that as much as the event means to the kids, it means that much more to his men. 

To track when Santa will be at your house, go to the NORAD’s website.