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How NORAD got into the Santa-tracking business

Updated: Dec 3, 2013 03:31 PM
Image courtesy of Digital Trends Image courtesy of Digital Trends


By Trevor Mogg
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December is here again, meaning millions of kids around the world will soon be busy writing Christmas lists comprising items their parents couldn't possibly afford, but that's OK because Santa is footing the bill, right?

As it's been doing every year since 1955, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, will be tracking Santa's progress on Christmas Eve as he makes his way around the world delivering gifts, eating mince pies, and knocking back copious amounts of sherry.

For many years, the only way for curious kids to contact NORAD's tracking team on December 24 was by phone. More recently, however, it's taken full advantage of the Internet to make the experience a whole lot more fun, with a revamped tracking site launching Sunday.

For the second year running, the organization is teaming up with Bing Maps to help provide accurate data regarding Santa's whereabouts, though its new site this year also includes a ton of stuff to keep kids entertained and help build up the excitement between now and the big day.

Together with the refreshed design and familiar countdown clock, visitors to the site will also find a new 3D globe, an advent-calendar arcade featuring a new game every day, seasonal music featuring Santa's favorite holiday tunes, movies explaining more about NORAD and Santa, and plenty more besides.

Special apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone have also been launched, while NORAD Santa can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

The organization, which usually spends its time looking for suspicious activities in the skies over the US and Canada, started tracking Santa each Christmas Eve 58 years ago after a Colorado Springs newspaper misprinted a ‘hotline' phone number in an ad inviting kids to call Santa.

The misprinted number belonged to NORAD's predecessor, the Continental Aerospace Defense Command. Not surprisingly, calls flooded in, but fortunately those on duty that night played along and gave updates on Santa's location as he went about delivering gifts. And so a tradition was born.

This article was originally posted on Digital Trends

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