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How NORAD Tracks Santa

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The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa's route since 1955, when a Sears advertisement encouraging kids to call Santa Claus accidentally published a top-secret military phone number at the Continental Air Defense Command in Colorado.

Col. Harry Shoup had his men answer the phone as Santa, someone drew a sleigh on the tracking board as a joke and that joke inspired Shoup to call a local radio station to report an unidentified flying object that looked like a sleigh. Listeners loved the joke and Santa sightings became a popular tradition on the rip-and-read wire news reports every holiday season. Then, we got the Internet.

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Since the Santa Cam debuted online in 1998, NORAD's commitment to Santa sightings has exploded. Now you've got elaborate 2D and 3D maps at the NORADSanta.org web page and phone apps for iPhone, Android and Windows phone. Official Santa tracking begins December 24 at 2:01 am EST. If you don't have access to a computer or smartphone (or if you just prefer talking to a person), you can call 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) to speak with a live operator.

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