The North American Aerospace Defense Command is tracking St. Nick and his reindeer as they make their annual Christmas Eve trek across the globe, marking the 60th year the agency has kept tabs on the festive flight.
Santa started the trip early Thursday morning after giving a quick speech to his elves, NORAD reported.
“Proud of what you do. Today is the day we spread cheer across the globe,” the man in red said before taking off from the North Pole and making his first stop in Russia.
NORAD — a partnership between the U.S. and Canada responsible for defending North America’s skies and monitoring its seas — began tracking Santa’s once-a-year trip in 1955 after Sears department store mistakenly printed the agency’s phone number in an ad encouraging kids to call the store for updates on Santa’s flight.
Flooded with calls from eager kids, quick-thinking military agents used NORAD’s radar to find Santa sailing through the night sky.
The defense organization, headquartered at Peterson Air Force in Colorado, began getting ready for this year’s tracking session weeks ago. The website mapping Santa’s trek went live early on Christmas Eve.
NORAD will staff 157 phone lines with volunteers, who will answer an estimated 125,000 calls from children around the globe looking for Santa.
The call center in a training building will be staffed for 23 hours on Christmas Eve. Other high-profile volunteers work remotely: First lady Michelle Obama is expected to volunteer, with calls forwarded to her on Christmas Eve.
NORAD will also share Santa's location on Facebook and Twitter. Last year, Santa got 1.6 million Facebook likes. Santa’s path changes from year to year, but the jolly man usually begins in the Eastern hemisphere, traveling though the South pacific and Asia before gliding throughout Africa and Asia. Then he visits North and South America.
He stops by every home worldwide, usually visiting between 9 p.m. and midnight local time — but only if the kids in the house are sleeping.
(Article courtesy of NY Daily News)
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