FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — NORAD is scrambling its high-tech systems for a special mission: tracking the exact location of Santa Claus as he makes his way around the globe Christmas Eve and to Fairfield County.
Through the magic of technology, you can keep tabs on Santa, as North American Aerospace Defense Command highlights the jolly old elf's journey by reindeer-pulled sleigh around the world. Check out the real-time map of Santa's progress online, by Facebook, via Twitter @NoradSanta, by email and by phone at 877-HI-NORAD.
NORAD says Santa usually starts in the South Pacific and hits New Zealand and Australia before heading to Japan and Asia. Africa and Europe are next, followed by North America and South America.
"Santa calls the shots," NORAD says on its website. "We just track him!"
Last year, the website had 22.3 million unique visitors. NORAD Tracks Santa now has 1.3 million fans on Facebook and 130,000 followers on Twitter.
NORAD uses radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets to track Santa on Dec. 24, according to the NORAD site.
The program started in 1955 when an advertisement suggested children to call Santa directly. But the phone number was misprinted and actually rang through to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, Col. Harry Shoup, beginning a tradition that NORAD continued after its creation in 1958.
"Each and every day throughout the year, all of us here at NORAD work diligently to defend and protect our nations," Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., NORAD commander, said in a past statement. "It is an honor for us to take one day each year to expand our missions to share goodwill and holiday spirit across the globe through the NORAD Tracks Santa program.
"We owe all of this to Col. Shoup, whose good humor in responding to that first call so long ago began our Santa-tracking tradition, and we're proud to carry this mission along to this day. Col. Shoup is a legend at NORAD, and through NORAD Tracks Santa, his legacy will live on forever."
Santa Claus left the North Pole and started his journey at 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, starting in Russia's far Eastern areas. By Christmas morning, he will have completed his annual trip, touching down in homes around the world. At about 1 p.m. Tuesday, Santa and his sleigh could be seen making their way over the Persian Gulf.
How is this even possible? NORAD officials have a theory.
"NORAD intelligence reports indicate that Santa does not experience time the way we do," the NORAD site speculates. "His trip seems to take 24 hours to us, but to Santa it might last days, weeks or even months. Santa would not want to rush the important job of delivering presents to children and spreading joy to everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa somehow functions within his own time-space continuum."