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Tracking-all-the-way: NORAD keeps Santa under surveillance

Published time: December 24, 2011 16:58
Edited time: December 24, 2011 20:58
AFP Photo / Jonathan Nackstrand

AFP Photo / Jonathan Nackstrand

As Santa is once again moving along his annual route around the globe, the penetrating eye of NORAD is tracking his every move. And with Big Brother watching, Old Saint Nick cannot afford to let things slide and leave some good kid without a present.

­During the holidays, the North American Aerospace Defense Command's mission is to make sure Christmas comes with all the trimmings. The operation began on 2am EST on December 24, and the tracking crew will stay on high alert until 3am Mountain Time on December 25.

The official NORAD Santa site offers a world map where you can find all the the old man's stops so far, his current location, and the coordinates of his next waypoint.  All Santa’s movements are captured on photo and video, and clicking at a camera icon will bring up a video blog post about the place he visited.

Santa can also be tracked through any mobile device packed with Google maps. Just type “Santa” in and you’ll get his location. This year, developers have even come out with Santa-tracking applications for Android an iOS devices.

The custom of following Santa as he does his work is not new, having appeared more than 50 years ago.

As legend has it, the tradition was born in 1955 after a little boy called the wrong number and reached NORAD’s commander-in-chief. The boy, thinking he had reached a Talk-to-Santa hotline, asked to speak to Santa. Colonel Harry Shoup decided not to disillusion the kid and ordered his team to check their radar for signs of Santa’s sleigh.

Today's Santa-tracking team is a serious branch of NORAD that uses some 120 phone lines and 23 laptops to answers phone calls, emails and messages in social media during the holidays. Live updates from the team can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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