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Posted at 4:10 PM ET, 12/23/2010

Santa Claus is coming -- but when?

By Hayley Tsukayama

A 55-year-old tradition continues this year as the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, launches its Santa Tracker at 2 a.m. EST on Christmas Eve, with help from Google Earth. NORAD tracks Old Saint Nick with four high-tech systems -- radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets -- not to mention the help of volunteers and donations to offset the costs.

The program started in 1955, when a Sears Roebuck ad in Colorado Springs, Colo., misprinted their number in an ad for a Santa hotline. Instead of Santa, calls poured in to the Continental Air Defense Command and its director of operations, Col. Harry Shoup. Shoup answered the phone expecting to speak to someone at the Pentagon. Instead he heard someone asking, "Are you really Santa Claus?"

Rather than say, "Sorry, kid, wrong number," he used his tracking equipment to give children the location of Santa Claus. You can find a charming audio clip of Shoup describing the first call at the official NORAD Santa Web site, which also has games for kids anxiously awaiting Santa's takeoff.

The Google Blog breaks down all the ways you can track Santa online and with your phone:

  • See Santa on a Google Map: On your home computer or laptop, visit www.noradsanta.org and choose your preferred language. You'll see a large Google Map on the page displaying Santa's current location and his next stop. Click the video icons to watch "Santa Cam" videos, and click the gift icons to learn more about each city.
  • Watch Santa fly with the Google Earth Plug-in: From www.noradsanta.org, click on the link Track Santa in Google Earth. You'll see Santa steering his sleigh right on the webpage. If you don't have the Google Earth plug-in, you can get ready by downloading it ahead of time.
  • Follow Santa on your phone: Track Santa from your mobile phone by opening Google Maps for mobile and searching for [santa]. Or, visit m.noradsanta.org on your phone's browser.
  • Subscribe to his YouTube channel: Santa's home on YouTube is at http://www.youtube.com/noradtrackssanta. That's where you can find videos from his journey throughout the night.
  • Get real-time information about Santa's location: Use Google's Realtime Search to get updates from social networks, news and micro-blogs like Twitter at @noradsanta, and keep up with news about his journey on this Facebook page.

For those who prefer a lower-tech method, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center will be open from 4:30 a.m. Dec. 24 to until 5 a.m. Eastern on Dec. 25. You can call them at 877-HI-NORAD (877-446-6723). From Colorado Springs or overseas, try 719-556-5211. (Cost may be incurred.)

The hearing-impaired should contact their service provider.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | December 23, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
 
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Comments

I am sick and tired of the PC types demanding that we let illegals like Santa into this society to commit crimes like residential burglary. The TSA is also obviously not monitoring Santa properly with their X-ray scanners and patdowns.

Worse is the potential for Santa-related terrorism. Suppose a terrorist shoots Santa in the head, commandeers the sleigh and delivers weapons of mass destruction to households at various points in the US? And like Arlo Guthrie, I question the politics of this individual wearing a RED suit. And there's not even a patriotic countervailing US Flag pin on that suit, proving a lack of loyalty to the United States.

I say use the Santa Tracker to blow him out of the sky with surface-to-air missiles.

Posted by: bloggersvilleusa | December 23, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

There is no way they are going to fit the big guy into the body scanner. So Santa will have to get an enhanced groping.

No gifts for Pistole this year!

mce

Posted by: mcewp | December 23, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Santa? How about telling us who fired the missile off the California coast or which plane made the "contrail". Can NORAD find and identify their lunch?

Posted by: JoeDBrown | December 23, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Another potential tax offset for the Republic's 212th Congress to consider.

Posted by: whocares666 | December 24, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

What a shame NORAD didn't do its job and track those "hijacked" planes on 911. Instead, it obeyed orders (from whom?) to stand down. It's too late for those who lost their lives on 911. What about the rest of us?

Posted by: mischipotles | December 24, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Go Santa, go! I love watching the NORAD Santa Tracker. I have shown this to friends all around the world. They all think it is really cool and sweet that Americans make this big effort every year to bring the joy Xmas to so many.

Peace.

Posted by: jwilbur1789 | December 24, 2010 6:13 AM | Report abuse

I just love Christmastime in Washington, don't you? Renewable Peace and Joy !

Posted by: jralger | December 24, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Keep important intelligence out of government hands. Dr. S'Free sent intelligence. I Will Honor Christmas In My Heart And Try To Keep It All Year. S'more tracking people tracking S'anta. He's in Japan now. Bot is watching http://www.wordbot.net/4d14aae14b1ab
Be carful and try to keep it under 650 MPH.

Posted by: jobandon | December 24, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

NORAD? You mean the NORAD that couldn't find their as_es on 911?

Posted by: steveola251c | December 24, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

P.S. Old Santa Snowman here. In the end S'Murphy law is gonna prevail. We should meet in Vail CO. People.

Posted by: jobandon | December 24, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Found her in 71, been looking just the same ever since. Double up for security. Mrs. Claus gets ignored and I'm looking for Mrs. Claus. We need a Mrs. Clause tracker Post. Please advise.

Posted by: jobandon | December 24, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Santa seduced her sister first to get Mrs. Claus more interested. When? Well this might taker a little longer than first thought.

Posted by: jobandon | December 24, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

They both got gold 49ers, so WTF.

Posted by: jobandon | December 24, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

After their "foul-up" on 9/11, how could anybody be amused or get warm feelings from this? As it says, they have been around for 55 years with the sole purpose of tracking stray aircraft and deploying fighters and other measures against them; the average person would assume NORAD is less than 10 years old. This fluff article is only enraging for those who pay attention. Stop playing games or stop taking indefinite quantities of our tax money.

Posted by: laughingatyou | December 24, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

What if NORAD were to become involved in the flight of Mr. Clause and mistakenly trigger a total global thermonuclear war? I would really hate if that happened.
- - - -
Border Enforcement + Immigration Moratorium = Job, Crime and Eco Sanity.

Posted by: tma_sierrahills | December 24, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I am an Atheist . I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Holidays and i would like to recommend a wonderful gift for your children.....................stay married.

Posted by: wxyz6200 | December 24, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"NORAD tracks Old Saint Nick with four high-tech systems -- radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets." Really, Post? They use satellites and fighters to track their imaginary friend?

Posted by: admirvis | December 24, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

What a shameful misuse of the internet and our white elephant boondoggle NORAD?

NORAD could not track or shot down the missiles that hit Pentagon on 911 and could not track or shot down the planes that hit the twin towers either.

So what good is NORAD?
What has NORAD tracked or shot down?

Maybe they are still taking orders from Dick Cheney to STAND DOWN.

Posted by: dressypink | December 24, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

NORAD can track Santa but still can't tell us about UFOs? How odd.

Is Santa allowed to board his sleigh with any liquids? What about sharp objects? Does he have to pay for an extra seat due to his girth? How much are headphones? Are meals included? If he asks for extra water and frequents the restroom during the flight is he remanded and turned over to an Air Marshal for suspicious behavior?

More importantly, was he forced to unwrap every single present for TSA inspection prior to loading?

Posted by: trambusto | December 24, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

And what of the elves? Has anyone ever questioned Santa as to why he has an innumerable mass of undocumented workers at his "compound"? I'll tell you what they're doing...they're conspiring with Santa to control the world! He is the first "wave", delivering presents laced with mind controlling hallucinogens. Then we poor saps sit in an oblivious stupor while Santa's "helpers" march right down Main Street, eliminating the men, enslaving the children and well, you can imagine what they will do to our women. It's truly a dark time in human history, friends....Merry Christmas indeed.

Posted by: JaneBaker2010 | December 24, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

It's sad to see so much negativity. This article was meant to keep things in the spirit of the holidays. To think that for one minute not only did you all tear down what is enjoyable to some, you really took down the spirit of the holiday. Okay so you all have opinions of what NORAD should have done, but for once can't we all just try to quit trying to make matters worse than they have become.

Happy holidays everyone, and thanks Rob for putting this out there again. Through the years my kids have enjoyed watching where Santa has been and will be going. Merry Christmas

Posted by: cck6160 | December 24, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Good to know they've got Santa under control -- even though they somehow missed that Chinese sub-launched missile off Los Angeles earlier in the month...

Posted by: LongTimeObserver | December 24, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

It's Big Brother
Over and Over Again!

Posted by: boski66 | December 24, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Well, aren’t you all so clever to point out 911 and blame it on NORAD. I am certain if anyone of you had been running things the towers would have been safe! You have faithfully watched season after season of “24” so you know exactly how to run a counter-terrorist operation!

Oh, and if you had actually read the article before posting you would have noticed the bit about NORAD’s Santa Claus tracking being sponsored by donations and volunteers. Don’t worry, your precious tax dollars would NEVER be spent on something as trivial as bringing excitement and joy to children. Instead, you can rest secure that your taxes will be wisely invested in hunting down and exterminating evil bad guys…

Yes, of course big government will work hard at keeping scary foreigners and immigrants out of your towns and from stealing your jobs! Oh, your company outsourced? That’s a tragedy.

Merry Christmas Ebenezer!

Posted by: Onetonbully | December 24, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Now I'm confused. Was Santa Claus responsible for 9/11? Because I'll tell you right now, if he was, he will most certainly be getting no cookies and milk from this American household.

Unless he has an iPad. In that case, he can make himself at home.

Posted by: JaneBaker2010 | December 24, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I heard that Santa is on a kamikaze mission and that Dick Cheney ordered the air force to stand down and let him through...

Posted by: ozpunk | December 24, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Forget about Santa - that's a myth.
Where was NORAD on 9/11? Why did NORAD Stand down?
Oh yeah - I forgot. The entire "official" story of 9/11 - including the NORAD part - is a myth too.

Posted by: grannymiller1 | December 24, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Christmas: the symbolic celebration of the WILLFUL, HOLOGRAPHIC emergence/incarnation of the Creator into this dimension: LORD JESUS, WHO IS STILL THE LIVING MESSIAH AND COMING KING, and Who is INVISIBLE, FOR NOW, soon to return physically, in great ferocity, IN OUR LIFETIMES.
Christmas among the Latter Day heathens: Disgusting, hypocritical, materialistic, satanic.
Ed, South Texas Shaman (http://southtexasshaman.tripod.com)

Posted by: southtexasshaman | December 24, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Whatat bunch of Scrooges! Your vile behavior represents, in large part, what's wrong with our country. You take every opportunity to be critical when you should be obsserving the joys of this season (and I don't mean just the Christmas aspects). For those of you who are asking why NORAD didn't alert us on 9/11: There's no way that NORAD would/could have tracked those planes and known until the last minute that they were heading for the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. So relax and stop looking for scapegoats until the Congress re-convenes.

Posted by: GSpelvin | December 24, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

You naysayers need to get your facts straight. There's no way NORAD could/would have known those planes were going into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon until the last minute. Your bile doth runneth over. Give it a rest until the Congress re-convenes.

Posted by: GSpelvin | December 24, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

You naysayers need to get your facts straight. NORAD had no way of knowing the Twin Towers and Pentagon would be hit on 9/11. Neither did FAA until the buildings were struck. NORAD tracks objects in space, not airliners flying domestically.
You need to give your rhetoric a rest until the Congress re-convenes.

Posted by: GSpelvin | December 25, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

You naysayers need to get your facts straight. NORAD had no way of knowing the Twin Towers and Pentagon would be hit on 9/11. Neither did FAA until the buildings were struck. NORAD tracks objects in space, not airliners flying domestically.
You need to give your rhetoric a rest until the Congress re-convenes.

Posted by: GSpelvin | December 25, 2010 1:53 AM | Report abuse

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