The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is an organization that defends the homeland through aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for North America. Located in Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, CO, it is responsible for watching the skies for threats and keeping track of airspace over the United States and Canada.

But it also has a side job- tracking Santa Claus' trip across the globe every Christmas Eve. And they've been doing it since 1955.

Christmas 1955, Sears & Roebuck Co. published an advertisement near Colorado Springs, inviting children to call Santa Claus. Due to a misprint of the phone number, hundreds of kids were instead connected with NORAD's Commander-in-Chief's operations hotline. Rather than dispelling the magic, NORAD employees checked the radar for St. Nick and gave children who called updates on his trip from the North Pole. The tradition was born.

This has, in fact, been a tradition in my family as long as I can remember. Every Christmas Eve, we would start tracking Santa on Christmas Eve, checking his location throughout the night. The rule was: "As soon as he makes it to North America, you have to be in bed," which usually landed around 9-10 pm.

NORAD continues the tradition with a highly interactive website,, complete with a map to show you exactly where Santa was last spotted, "Santa Cam," videos of Santa visiting various cities as he makes it there during the night, and games for kids to play while they eagerly await Christmas morning.

This year, NORAD gave a sneak peak of Santa's training exercises, where the reindeer take a night off, and Santa steps into an F-18 for the night instead.

Santa takes to the skies on Christmas Eve, so make sure to visit NORAD's website to track Santa Claus in real time (and get the kids to bed at a reasonable time.)

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