The military confirmed that the beloved Christmas tradition of tracking Santa’s progress with the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD)’s Santa Tracker will continue thanks to the help of approximately 1,500 volunteers.
As planned, on the night of December 24, military personnel and volunteers will gather at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado to answer the calls of curious children wishing to speak with Santa Claus.
Monday marks the 63rd year of NORAD Tracks Santa, which became an annual Christmas Eve ritual in 1955 after children looking for Santa mistakenly called a military command centre due to a phone number mix-up in a local newspaper.
When Colonel Harry Shoup answered the call that night at the Continental Air Defence Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado, rather than hanging up, he informed his operators to find Santa and relay the information to every child that called in, according to NORAD.
Now, in keeping with tradition, volunteers track Santa’s location through the use of satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters – and then relay this information to the thousands of people who call and email each year.
“We use radar systems scattered across the world, along with satellites providing infrared imagery, and then we have Santa Cams scattered throughout the world,” Maj Todd Walter, a mission crew commander with the Canadian Air Defence, explained in a video posted to Twitter. “And then jet fighters that also go out and intercept Santa.”
In addition to tracking Santa, some children who call list their Christmas lists, according to volunteer Madison Hill, who told the Associated Press: “It really gets you into the Christmas spirit.”
To find Santa’s whereabouts, children can call NORAD Tracks Santa starting at 4am Mountain Standard Time at 1-877-HI-NORAD.
Or, Santa can be located on the Santa Tracker website, which receives more than “nine million unique visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world,” according to NORAD.
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