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Christmas Special: NORAD tracks Santa

Published 10:25am Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Of course, everybody knows Christmas Eve is a special night, but for one rather jolly gentleman who seems to enjoy the color red, it’s busy. Real busy.

As Christmas Eve’s skies darken, Santa Claus will begin his trek around the world, delivering toys to good girls and boys. It’s a tough journey that will have Santa depending on his team of talented reindeer to speed him over the circumference of planet Earth.

As tough as his job will be that special night, it’s even harder to try to pinpoint where he is and, of course, when he’s stopping at your house with the goods. For a variety of reasons, Santa doesn’t log his flight path — either because of his jolly nature, or his need to keep the magic of Christmas a mystery.

However, there is one group, with an array of gadgets and satellites that can help keep an eye on where Santa is — NORAD: North American Aerospace Defense Command and their Santa Tracker.

As always, they are ready to help children and their families follow Santa throughout his journey.

“We use satellite systems, Santa camps and jets to help track Santa on his Yuletide trip across the world,” said U.S. Army Capt. Ruth Castro, NORAD Santa Tracker spokesman.

Families can now follow Santa’s progress at www.noradsanta.org where all the information will be coming in real time. People can go there now though to get a jump start on things and check out the Santa Tracker countdown and take place in a slew of activities.

The Santa Tracker is the main show as kids eagerly watch for Santa and his sleigh.

“We give them up-to-date information on where Santa is,” Capt. Castro said. “And we have to keep up with the times, so now everybody has some sort of app on their phones.”

That’s where the Santa Tracker’s other modes of tracking come in. This year people can get apps through Google Play and the Apple Store. There is also a Twitter and Facebook site, Google and Youtube pages.

And these sites will get their work.

“I can tell you that we received 114,000 phone calls last year, more than 11,000 emails and we had nearly 23 million unique visitors from more than 230 countries,” Capt. Castro said.

This year Santa looks to get some company when a pair of U.S. fighter jets will join him as he flies through American airspace.

“We do have a couple fighter jets that will be with him in the North American aerospace, but they won’t be escorting him,” Capt. Castro said. “They’re just hanging out for the ride.”

It’s more than just a job for NORAD. There’s a good amount of fun coming along with the job.

“It’s always fun to answer the phone and be part of it,” Capt. Castro said. “You get to hear a lot of stories. Some of us, even though we aren’t required to work, come in to volunteer.”

However, if you are looking to spy the Old St. Nick, children shouldn’t hold their breath because even in their official capacity, even NORAD doesn’t get to know where exactly Santa is headed.

“He doesn’t let anybody know,” Capt. Castro said. “We don’t get a flight plan. It’s amazing how much Rudoph’s red nose helps us.”

And don’t think you’ll be able to catch Santa at home either. He requires good boys and girls to be in bed.

“We get a lot of kiddos that call, and we have to tell them that he won’t make a stop if their not in bed,” Capt. Castro said. “They say OK and off they go.”


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