By Marc Westray from Interpreters Unlimited
Every December as most of the world gears up for Christmas, decorating their homes, shopping for gifts and planning get-togethers with family and friends, Interpreters Unlimited gears up to help NORAD with their annual NORAD Tracks Santa Program. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa every year on Christmas Eve using a variety of methods including radar, satellites, and American and Canadian fighter jets. The program is offered in different languages, powered by Interpreters Unlimited, so that people from all over the world can track Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve.
NORAD is a joint United States-Canadian organization with a mission of safeguarding the skies 365 days a year, and tracking Santa that one special day a year. This tradition started in 1955 when a newspaper ad directed children to call Santa on a hotline, but the phone number was misprinted and instead connected them to NORAD’s predecessor, Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD). NORAD kept the tradition alive and since then has used their state-of-the-art technology to track Santa as he makes his way around the world.
As a partner to NORAD Tracks Santa, Interpreters Unlimited provides their website with pro bono translation in 7 languages along with supplying Santa Cam voiceover support for the Santa Tracker Phone Hotline. Not only do language services make the program more accessible, but it also helps to create a more inclusive community around it. Every year, NORAD receives tens of thousands of phone calls from people all over the world asking for Santa’s whereabouts, in addition, their website receives millions of visitors from all over the globe. By providing this service, NORAD helps to bring people of all cultures and religions together in the spirit of Christmas, and Interpreters Unlimited plays a vital role for the Non-English Speaking children throughout the US and internationally.
In 2021, NORAD Tracks Santa answered over 53,000 phone calls, had over 14 million website visitors and almost 3 million video views. The service is also available through Alexa and OnStar, where they had almost 9 million Alexa requests and more than 44,000 OnStar requests last year. Users of both services can receive updates on Santa’s location on Dec 24th as well as learn fun facts and play holiday music.
Offering the program in English plus 7 other languages is not only convenient for users, but it also helps to promote goodwill and international understanding. Promoting global unity, people of all ages and from all corners of the world can come together and track Santa’s journey. This is a great way to remind people of the commonalities we share, despite our differences. It is also a learning experience as tracking Santa can help teach kids about technology and geography, they can learn about different time zones and how to use various tracking tools, and it helps to educate children (and adults) about the work that NORAD does.
Interpreters Unlimited is extremely happy to play a part alongside NORAD making memories, helping to bring Christmas spirit, spreading holiday joy and cheer to millions of children year after year. So next time you’re wondering where Santa is on Christmas Eve, be sure to check in with NORAD.
The NORAD Tracks Santa interactive website with Christmas music, games, and other holiday activities can be accessed all December at www.noradsanta.org. On Dec. 24th, users can call 1-877-HiNORAD (1-877-446-6723) for Santa’s up-to-date location.
For more information about Interpreters Unlimited, Inc., please visit www.interpreters.com or call 800-726-9891.
About Interpreters Unlimited, Inc.
The IU Group of companies include: Interpreters Unlimited, Accessible Communication for the Deaf, Albors & Alnet, Arkansas Spanish Interpreters and Translators, and IU GlobeLink, LLC, and are headquartered in San Diego, California as a minority-owned company. IU Group is committed to providing equal opportunity in the work environment with its diverse team to aid in supplying linguistic and cultural interpretation services to clients. A combined 70 years in the industry has demonstrated a surplus of leadership and best practices, which has helped establish its respected role in the language services community. Its services include interpretation, document translation and non-emergency medical transportation.
Photo courtesy of NORAD