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Published: Dec 25, 2008
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Update5: Where is Santa Claus? NORAD (Video) Santa Tracker Online
by Jack Ryan


NORAD Santa Tracker - Santa Claus has made a slight change in his flight schedule this year, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command said Tuesday.

Update 4:00am EDT: Santa is in Hilo, Hawaii.

NORAD, in coordination with the North Pole staff, were told Santa will launch his sleigh two hours later than in years past. Santa is scheduled to launch from the North Pole at 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Christmas Eve.

"For the past six years Santa has launched from the North Pole two hours earlier than he intends this year", Maj. Stacia Reddish, NORAD Tracks Santa Program Manager told CBS News.

"Although we are not 100-percent certain of the reason behind the later departure, it may be due to the bedtime hour for youngsters around the world. In years past, Santa has often times had to circle back around since many of the children were not asleep when he visited them the first time."

People who want to track Santa's journey this year can do so by checking updates on Twitter. Just add noradsanta to your tweets.

Children can also telephone a toll-free number to talk personally to a Santa tracker on Christmas Eve. That number is 1-877-Hi-NORAD. Kids can also send e-mails to [email protected].

The NORAD Tracks Santa Web site at www.noradsanta.org, went live Dec. 1 and has already received over 1.016 million visitors from more than 200 countries and territories.

Over 900 volunteers are manning 100 phone lines and 20 computers at the Santa Tracking Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, answering phone calls and e-mails from children worldwide.

From the NORAD Santa site: "For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa. The tradition began after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. store advertisement for children to call Santa on a special "hotline" included an inadvertently misprinted telephone number. Instead of Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first "Santa" call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing what had happened, Colonel Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa's position. Thus, the tradition was born. In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for the North American continent called the North American Air Defense Command, known as NORAD. Canada and the U.S. believed they could better defend North America together as a team instead of separately.

NORAD carried out its first Santa tracking in 1958 after inheriting the tradition from CONAD. Since that time, Canadian and American men and women who work at NORAD have responded to phone calls from children personally. Additionally, media from all over the world call NORAD on Christmas Eve for updates on Santa's location. Last year this Website was visited by millions of people who wanted to know Santa's whereabouts. This year, the information is provided in six languages.NORAD relies on many volunteers to help make Santa tracking possible. Hundreds of volunteers spend part of their Christmas Eve at the Santa Tracking Operations Center answering phones and emails to provide Santa updates to thousands of inquiring children worldwide.

NORAD is the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace defense of the United States and Canada. NORAD was created by a 1958 agreement between Canada and the United States. The agreement has been renewed nine times - most recently this year. NORAD provides warning of missile and air attack against both of its member nations, safeguards the air sovereignty of North America, and provides air defense forces for defense against an air attack.

NORAD's mission has evolved over the years to meet the aerospace defense needs of Canada and the United States. The most recent "evolution" in NORAD's mission came as a result of September 11, 2001. Because of that day, NORAD now monitors the airspace within Canada and the United States, too. In addition, the command also conducts maritime warning. There are men and women in NORAD constantly watching the skies and waterways to keep the United States and Canada safe."

When Santa takes off from the North Pole in a few hours, children can track him with up-to-the-minute reports on the Santa Tracker site, in Google Maps and Google Earth.

If you have Google Earth installed, you can initialize the Santa Tracker by clicking here.


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