Here comes Santa Claus: NORAD ready to help keiki track jolly old Saint Nick

  • Gabe Allen writes a letter to Santa earlier this month during a holiday event at Keauhou Shopping Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Luke Mattos, 2 and his mom Vanessa receive a bag filled with everything to decorate cookies and ornaments Wednesday at Christmas at Keauhou Shopping Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Kekai Kreinberg, left, and Hunter Praksti ride in Santa’s sleigh Wednesday at Christmas at Keauhou Shopping Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Ruby Chardon, 2 and her mom Jennifer visit Santa at Keauhou Shopping Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, launches its annual Santa locator tool today for keiki who want to track when jolly old Saint Nick will reach the Aloha State.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website — — went live Dec. 1. It’s manned each year by hundreds of volunteers and staff on Christmas Eve, who answer calls from children around the world and track Santa’s GPS coordinates via a command center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Santa’s exact route isn’t known — nor is it clear exactly when he’ll pass over Hawaii — but he generally starts around the international date line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west. Children are advised to be in bed by 9 p.m. HST and Santa can arrive at any point until about midnight.

This year marks the 66th year NORAD’s Santa tracker program has taken place and the second amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It reportedly began after an advertisement misprinted a phone number for children to call Santa direct. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center (now NORAD). The commander played along and the tradition has continued ever since.

“Every household, every country is having to deal with the impact of this pandemic. Santa Claus is an icon, and he is a source of joy for a lot of people,” NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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