For the 61st year, the organization charged with the air defense of the United States will spend December tracking the movements of the jolly man in red and his 9 reindeer. On December 1st, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, unveiled a brand new website, featuring games, videos, music and an online visit to Santa's house and his workshop, which is the destination on Christmas eve to track the travelings of Santa, Donner, Dancer, Rudolph, et al.

In 1955, Sears & Roebuck set up a phone line, encouraging children to call and talk to Santa. The only problem is, when Sears & Roebuck printed the advertisement for Santa's hot-line, it was printed with an incorrect phone number. Instead of Jolly Ol' St. Nick, children around the country instead reached the operations hot-line of Colonel Harry Shoup, crew commander of the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center in Colorado. Shoup had his staff check the radar for signs of Santa was making his way from the North Pole.

military green radar for reconnaissance of enemy planes
photo courtesy of ThinkStock/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Thus began a tradition carried on by the NORAD since its inception in 1958. Today, through satellite systems, high-powered radars and jet fighters, NORAD tracks Santa Claus as he makes his Yuletide journey around the world. Every year on December 24, fifteen hundred volunteers staff telephones and computers to answer calls and e-mails from children (and adults) from around the world. Live updates are provided in seven languages through the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site, over telephone lines, and by e-mail to keep children and their families informed about Santa’s whereabouts and if it’s time to get to bed.

Each year, the NORAD Tracks Santa Web Site receives nearly nine million unique visitors from more than 200 countries around the world. Volunteers receive more than 140,000 calls to the NORAD Tracks Santa hotline (877 HI-NORAD) from children around the globe.

This year, children and the young-at-heart are able to track Santa through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. To follow us on any of these Web sites, type in @noradsanta into the search engine and start tracking.

The NORAD radar system, called the North Warning System, has 47 sites across north Canada and Alaska. This radar array helps determine when Santa has lifted off. To make it easier for all good girls and boys to follow Santa's progress, to know when they should be tucked away warm and cozy, awaiting St. Nick's arrival.

Santa and Reindeer
photo courtesy of ThinkStock/Getty Images/Ingram Publishing

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