COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — For the young and the young at heart, the NORAD Santa Tracker website is live for the holiday season as the aerospace organization prepares for the jolly old elf's big night.
The North America Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which has its headquarters in Colorado Springs, has tracked Santa as he traverses the globe since 1955. This year, the countdown website features games, music, books, videos for the enjoyment of children from age 2 to 92 (and beyond).
Of course, 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 mobile app.
There's also a phone number to call to reach the NORAD Tracks Santa Operation Center starting at 4 a.m. Dec. 24: 877-466-6723.
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.
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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