WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. — NORAD is scrambling its high-tech systems for a special mission: tracking the exact location of Santa Claus as he makes his way around the globe Christmas Eve.
Through the magic of technology, you can keep tabs on Santa, as North American Aerospace Defense Command highlights the jolly old elf's journey by reindeer-pulled sleigh around the world. Check out the real-time map of Santa's progress here.
NORAD uses radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets to track Santa on Dec. 24, according to the NORAD site. The search has even made its way on to mobile devices through apps in iTunes, Google Play and Windows.
The program started in 1955 when an advertisement suggested children call Santa directly. But the phone number was misprinted and actually rang through to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, Col. Harry Shoup, beginning a tradition that NORAD continued after its creation in 1958.
"Each and every day throughout the year, all of us here at NORAD work diligently to defend and protect our nations," said Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., NORAD commander. "It is an honor for us to take one day each year to expand our missions to share goodwill and holiday spirit across the globe through the NORAD Tracks Santa program.
"We owe all of this to Col. Shoup, whose good humor in responding to that first call so long ago began our Santa-tracking tradition, and we're proud to carry this mission along to this day. Col. Shoup is a legend at NORAD, and through NORAD Tracks Santa, his legacy will live on forever."
Santa Claus is expected to leave the North Pole and start on his journey at 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, starting in Russia's far Eastern areas. By Christmas morning, he will have completed his annual trip, touching down in homes around the world.
How is this even possible? NORAD officials have a theory.
"NORAD intelligence reports indicate that Santa does not experience time the way we do," the NORAD site speculates. "His trip seems to take 24 hours to us, but to Santa it might last days, weeks or even months. Santa would not want to rush the important job of delivering presents to children and spreading joy to everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa somehow functions within his own time-space continuum."
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