Where is Santa now? Follow him with satellites and radar

NORAD celebrates 65th year of tracking Santa

Join NORAD as it tracks Santa Claus on Christmas Eve with satellites and radar as he delivers presents to girls and boys around the world.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command is celebrating 65 years of keeping watch over the jolly old elf’s flight path from the North Pole as he guides his reindeer-driven sleigh on his magical journey.

NORAD tracks everything that flies in and around North America 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in defense of the homeland. On Dec. 24, NORAD has a special mission to also track Santa.

Millions of people each year visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org and this year can join NORAD on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram as well.

But there will be some changes this year: not every child will be able to get through to a volunteer at the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline at 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-466-6723), where operators available through midnight can reveal Santa’s exact location. Normally there are up to 160 call-takers working two-hour shifts. This year the number of volunteers will be drastically cut to about 10 per shift, the Associated Press reported.

“We understand this is a time-honored tradition, and we know undoubtedly there is going to be some disappointment,” said NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter told the AP. “But we’re trying to keep it safe for everyone involved.”

NORAD has been tracking Santa’s annual flight since 1955 when a young girl accidentally dialed the unlisted phone number for the Continental Air Defense Command operations center in Colorado. The girl thought she was calling Santa Claus after seeing a promotion in a local newspaper, according to the command.

Air Force Col. Harry Shoup, the commander on duty that night, realized the call was a mistake but assured the child his agency would guarantee Santa a safe journey from the North Pole.

That began the tradition, picked up by NORAD when it was formed in 1958.

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