In December 1955, when it was actually called CONAD, Colonel Harry Shoup was ranking officer when the phone rang. The phone --- the red phone that you really don't want to ring, on your watch or any other time. He answers the phone, and has a very confusing conversation. The voice on the other end of the phone is asking a vexing question.
"Can I talk to Santa Claus?"
It turns out that the local Sears has placed an ad in the paper with a phone number so kids can call and talk to Santa. There's a misprint in the ad, and so NORAD has kids calling in every day. One can imagine that first call. Col. Shoup may have let slip who he was and what his job was. The kid wants to know about Santa, and NORAD tracks anything that enters US airspace ...
In 1955, the big board was a sheet of glass with a map, marked up with grease pencils. To help answer the incoming calls, the CONAD team marked the position of a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer. The following year, the folks at CONAD preëmted any confusion by changing the number of the Red Phone and running their own ad with the number of the Santa Phone.
Mind you, these folks are government employees. Their job is to look for Russian planes. So they're doing this unpaid, on their time off. And every year they got more callers.
Needless to say, as aerospace technology advances, so does NORAD's Santa operation. And of course there's a website. I particularly recommend the videos from the Santa tracking systems test done last month, as they tracked Santa leaving the North Pole to attend the Hollywood Christmas Parade.