Back in 1955 Sears Roebuck & Co. printed an advertisement for children to call Santa. They misprinted the telephone number and a tradition was born.
Instead of reaching Sears' "Santa" the kids were connected to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." According to the website, "The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location."