COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — As NORAD counts down to Santa's big night, its Tracking Santa website is live for the season for the enjoyment of the young and the young at heart.
The North America Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which has its headquarters in Colorado Springs, has tracked Santa as he traverses the globe since 1955. The countdown website that goes live on Dec. 1 each year gives visitors a peek at the North Pole with games, music, books, and videos for the enjoyment of children from ages 2 to 92 (and beyond).
The main event doesn't commence until Christmas Eve, when Santa enthusiasts can track his annual flight on the website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the NORAD Tracks Santa Claus mobile app.
There's also a phone number to reach the NORAD Tracks Santa Operation Center on Dec. 24: 877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723).
The Santa Tracker program started in 1955, when a local Sears store in Colorado Springs printed a newspaper ad that invited kids to call a certain phone number to talk to Santa. The number was misprinted, and the calls ended up going to the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor.
The colonel on duty that night realized the mistake. He ordered his officers and his troops to start tracking Santa using our systems and telling the kids where Santa was throughout the night.
"While the tradition of tracking Santa began purely by accident, NORAD continues to track Santa," according to the website. "We're the only organization that has the technology, the qualifications, and the people to do it. And, we love it! NORAD is honored to be Santa's official tracker!"
As the official tracker, NORAD has the scoop on Santa. For instance, their intelligence indicates Santa is at least 16 centuries old, is about 5-foot-7 and weighs about 260 pounds (before cookies), according to the FAQS.
And the sleigh is 74 cc (candy canes) long and carries about 60,000 tons of gifts at takeoff.
NORAD said while only Santa knows what his exact route will be, history shows that he arrives between 9 p.m. and midnight on Dec. 24 and only when children are asleep.
He typically starts at the International Date Line and travels west, visiting the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia, followed by Japan, Asia, Africa, Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America.
As for the age-old question, "Is there a Santa Claus?" this is what NORAD has to say: "Mountains of historical data and NORAD tracking information leads us to believe that Santa Claus is alive and well in the hearts of people throughout the world."
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