If you are racking your brain trying to come up with a creative answer to your preschooler's constant questions about where Santa is on Christmas Eve, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has come to your rescue.
Beginning at 2 a.m. EST on Dec. 24, children across the U.S. and Canada can visit the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site to find out Santa's exact location on Christmas Eve. Or, using your mobile phone, visit m.noradsanta.org and search for "Santa" on Google Maps for mobile. You can also call 1855-34-SANTA and leave Santa a message or, get the big guy to call your child with SendaCallFromSanta, a program sponsored by GoogleVoice.
The NORAD Tracks Santa Web site, which provides real-time information on Santa's progress in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese -- is complete with radar maps and streaming SantaCam video images documenting his global journey. You can also download Google Earth for an incredibly cool visual perspective on where Santa is and where he is going. Some of the information might be over your preschooler's head, but the whole process offers an incredible learning opportunity abut other cultures, geography and even some reading.
According to NORAD, more than 1,000 volunteers, military personnel from Colorado Springs, their families and friends, and NORAD Tracks Santa corporate sponsor team members will answer the Santa tracking hotline to let kids know Santa's progress. How much fun is that job?
This will be 54th year that NORAD has tracked Santa. According to NORAD, the tradition got started thanks to a typo in a local newspaper. A department store was encouraging kids to call their special Santa hotline. But the number was misprinted and calls were routed to the Continental Air Defense Command (NORAD's predecessor). A quick-thinking senior officer, Col. Harry Shoup, realized the mistake and decided to have some fun. He assured the kids that called that he was one of Santa's helpers and was watching Santa on a radar screen. Pretty soon, the local media picked up on the story and the following year, the CADC was inundated with calls from hopeful children wanting to know when Santa would be coming down their chimney. NORAD, which was founded in 1958, took over the tradition that year. Since then, the program has grown, expanding to the Internet in 1998 and introducing toll-free calling in 2002.
How do you celebrate Christmas Eve? Have you ever called NORAD?