Want a cool party trick to impress your kids and family this Christmas Eve? Press your OnStar button and ask where Santa is.
According to a press release from General Motors, its OnStar information service will work in conjunction with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to relay information from the government agency’s “Track Santa” program to vehicles equipped with OnStar from 7 a.m. December 24 until 5 a.m. December 25.
According to Director of OnStar Subscriber Services Neelie O’Conner, Christmas 2012 marks the fourth consecutive Christmas GM has taken part in tracking the Jolly Old Elf. OnStar subscribers wanting to know where Santa is can hit the button and ask for a “Santa Update” to get the latest information.
One might ask just how NORAD obtains its information. It sounds complex, according to the GM press release:
“Using sophisticated systems like the North Warning Radar System and geo-synchronous satellites with infrared sensors, NORAD monitors Santa’s location on Christmas Eve.”
In addition to tracking St. Nicholas via OnStar updates, children may ask to take a peek at your smartphone to find Santa’s location via the NORAD Tracks Santa mobile app available for Windows phones as well as Android and Apple mobile devices.
According to NORAD, the tradition of tracking Santa as he flies over the North American continent began in 1955 after a misprinted phone number saw children calling NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) instead of the local Sears and Roebuck store, where they were supposed to be able to talk with Santa on the phone. A good sport, CONAD Director of Operations Col. Harry Shoup had his staff check the radar for the location of Santa whenever he received a call, giving birth to a tradition that has continued ever since.
Today, the Command said NORAD staff, family, and friends volunteer their time to answer phone calls and personally return letters and e-mails to children all over the world. In addition, NORAD tracks Santa’s journey on the internet each year, and you’re likely to see reference to the NORAD Tracks Santa operation on your local television news program on the night of Christmas Eve.