Rest assured, kids of all ages: Santa Claus is coming this Christmas Eve.
This is information from a joint US-Canadian military operation that has tracked jolly Saint Nicholas on his global mission for 67 years and assured us all – first via landline and more recently via iPhone, Android, OnStar, Facebook, YouTube and more – that he rides with a sled stuffed with toys and the desired dose of joy.
In a tradition that has become very popular, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, based in Colorado, will provide an update on Santa’s progress from 4 a.m. to midnight EST on Dec. 24. NORAD’s Santa Tracker allows families to watch Santa in 3D as he traverses the South Pacific, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
NORAD experienced some technical issues with the streaming tracker early Saturday, but those issues were resolved within a couple of hours. “Thank you for your patience! We are working! (Santa has been asleep for several hours.) Santa is now over the Solomon Islands,” NORAD posted on its Facebook page at 7:30 a.m. ET.
MORE: NORAD’s Tracker Santa started by accident, now it’s a Christmas tradition
From deep within NORAD headquarters, dozens of volunteers call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) nonstop. They and other volunteers will answer the questions “When will he come to me? What kind of cookies does he like?” said program manager and NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter.
Want to see?
Visit https://www.noradsanta.orgcheck out #NORADTracksSanta and @NoradSanta on Twitter, or use related programs. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for the latter.
The Origins of NORAD Tracking Santa
Like any good Christmas tale, the program’s origins have been told for generations.
In 1955, Air Force Col. Harry Shoup — the one-night duty commander at NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command — answered a call from a child who had dialed a number that had been misspelled in a newspaper ad, thinking she was calling Santa.
Shoup “answered the call, thought it was a prank at first, but then realized what had happened and assured the child he was Santa, thus starting the tradition,” Schlachter said.
NORAD’s mission is to monitor the skies over North America for potential threats. On Christmas Eve, Operation Santa begins when a group of radar stations in northern Canada and Alaska pick up an infrared signal coming from Rudolph’s nose. An array of geostationary NORAD satellites above the Earth monitors the journey.
It’s all shown on large “unclassified” screens in a festively decorated command post at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. Masked volunteers sit at tables equipped with phones, garlands, miniature Christmas trees, lots of candy and caffeinated coffee — and hand sanitizer.
“We’ve got a lookout,” is the motto of NORAD’s military mission.
And when it comes to Santa, NORAD adds:
“Santa is in charge. We’re just tracking him.”
Associated Press reporter Terry Chea in San Francisco contributed to this report.
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